The Eastern Conference playoffs are starting to take shape, and it looks like the Pacers are fitting into that third seed, which means they play the sixth seed. Right now, the Chicago Bulls and Atlanta Hawks are right there tied at that spot, so it’s likely the Pacers will be playing one of the two. While I would love to feel ultra confident with that first round, no matter which team, the confidence is a bit shaky. The Pacers need to get out of the first round to deem this season a success, but it could be a battle against the Bulls or Hawks. Both teams have given the Pacers some problems, and it wouldn’t surprise me with either team if the series goes seven games. That’s tough to continue on, even if the Pacers are as good as advertised. But which team would I want to face?
Without Derrick Rose, the Bulls are still a tough team. They might be even tougher to play as you’re not sure who to stop. Joakim Noah is a bit banged up, so that could help out the Pacers if he’s not able to go. He’s truly a leader on the floor, and such a defensive presence. Therefore without Rose or Noah, that could be favorable to the Pacers. But then there’s still some scoring punch there that you have to stop. The defense of the Bulls plays extremely tough with whoever is on the floor. The Pacers would have an advantage in the starters, but the benches might be as even as possible. That could be where this series is one, if the starters are matching point for point. The Pacers and Bulls would be a tough physical series, and one that could wear down either team for that next round.
The Hawks just seem to have the Pacers number, except for this past season. But in this series, the Hawks have had some lengthy runs, like a streak of nine straight wins over the Pacers. Who knows what that was? If the Pacers just couldn’t handle the athleticism of the Hawks or if they just played down out of their potential. This past season, the Pacers have shown they can beat the Hawks, and I would think that the Pacers could win against the Hawks easier than the Bulls. I don’t think it would go seven games, and with the right play, this could go five games. Paul George could have a field day against the Hawks in my mind. He should be aggressive and look to really open up his game in this series. Roy Hibbert could do some work in the post as well.
Who would you want to face in the first round?