With the playoffs on the horizon and the Indiana Pacers clinching a spot, the question has come up quite a bit, “How deep can the Pacers go in the NBA playoffs?” This team is certainly interesting and has surprised quite a few with the run they’ve made toward the Central Division title of the Eastern Conference. Here’s a breakdown of why the Pacers might go all the way in 2013.
Record Against the Miami Heat
Most experts think the Miami Heat have a great chance of repeating as champions, but the Pacers could be the right team to eliminate them from the playoffs. The Heat and Pacers played three times this season and the Pacers won two of three. None of the three games was all that close and the only loss was during the long winning streak of the Heat. This might be the “must watch” series of the playoffs and could see the Pacers knocking out the Heat.
Home Court Advantages
Going into the playoffs at one of the top seeds, the Pacers will see quite a bit of their home court. This is a good thing, since they win about 75% of the games they play in Indianapolis. It will be hard for a lower seeded team to take out Indiana, since they will have home court advantage through the first few rounds of the playoffs.
Balance and Defense
The only team in the league giving up fewer points per game than Indiana is Memphis. They are one of the toughest defensive teams and they have the balance to make it difficult on many other teams. We all know the saying “defense wins championships” and Indiana might be able to make a run. The Pacers are actually a good team to have youngsters watch because defense and rebounding are their keys to success. Whether your practicing on top basketball hoops in the gym or the driveway, the Pacers are a good team to imitate.
Great defense and a balanced offense might just push the Pacers deep into the playoffs. They don’t have just one superstar scoring all their points. Instead, the team spreads the ball well and everybody seeing minutes contributes. This makes it hard for other teams to choose which players to guard because when one player is shut down, another player steps up.
The Ability to Knock Down the Three-Point Shot
Hitting a three-point shot can change the entire game in an instant. Teams capable of knocking down the three-pointer can come back from large deficits and can close teams out. As a team, Indiana makes over 35% of the three-pointer they take including both Paul George and George Hill hitting over 38% of the three-pointers they attempt.
Who Could End Their Run?
The one team that could end the run for the Pacers is the Atlanta Hawks. Though they no longer have the crossovers of Joe Johnson, who was traded to Brooklyn, the Hawks seem to consistently give Indiana trouble. Of course, Atlanta will need to get through the first round of the playoff to face Indiana.
So, the answer to the question comes down to whether the Pacers get hot going into the playoffs or if they cool off. Another potential factor includes Danny Granger coming back before the playoffs. They’ve played incredible basketball without Granger and if he’s healthy and stays healthy for the playoffs, he could be the star player they need to push them over the edge and into the finals for the first time in over a decade.