March 11, 2012; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard (12) shoots over Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert (55) and power forward David West (21) during the first quarter of a game at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

Pacers Against Current Playoff Teams

Looking at tonight’s game against the Heat, the pacers hope to avoid a season series sweep. This will be tough as the Heat have handled the Pacers in two meetings and sneaked out with a win in the third meeting. This final regular season meeting could go a long way determining who would have the edge in the post season.

Right now, the Pacers sit in sixth in the Eastern Conference, but how have they fared against the other current playoff teams. This should give us a good idea.

Chicago Bulls- 1-1 with one game to go.
The first meeting was a five point win by the Pacers on the Bulls home floor, where Derrick Rose said the Pacers celebrated too much. Then came in a meeting earlier this month that saw the Bulls go on a third quarter run to open up the game, and the Bulls went away with a twenty point win. The Pacers get a home date with the Bulls on the last game of the season, but the Pacers have already clinched a playoff berth, so what will they be playing for then? The Pacers meanwhile could be fighting for playoff position and might need that win to earn a higher seed.

Miami Heat- 3-0 with Miami having the edge and the last game tonight.

Orlando Magic- Magic win the series 3-1.
The Magic have the edge in this series that wasn’t that competitive. The Pacers lost at home by 19 points in the first meeting, then took the Magic by storm and won by 21 in Orlando. The Magic came back to Indy for a game in February that the Pacers had some chances to win, but couldn’t capitalize and end up losing by 4 points. But the final meeting was all Magic as they ran away and picked up the win by 13. This is important because right now the Pacers would play the Magic in the playoffs, and I am mixed about their chances based upon regular season games. Maybe the Pacers could kick it into another gear and steal this series from the Magic in the playoffs if the positions hold their place.

Philadelphia 76ers- 1-1 with two games left to play.
The 76ers got a game on the Pacers back in January, a game that Danny Granger did not play. Then the Pacers returned the favor and had control of the 76ers in the next game. This is probably the best match up for the Pacers, so if they can get back into that fifth position, they would probably play Philadelphia and should feel good about how they stack up there. Still two games left in this series, so we’ll see how it plays out.

Atlanta Hawks- 2-1 Pacers win the series.
This is a team that the Pacers have seemed to struggle against in recent years, but it’s also the team that Danny Granger has his highest point average against. It’s an athletic team, but one that the Pacers can match up with against, and have handled in the regular season. Come playoffs, this might be a good team that the Pacers could feel confident against.

Boston Celtics- 2-1 in favor of the Pacers.
Interesting match up here as the Pacers have won both games by 13 and lost one by 7, so therefore the team could probably handle the Celtics in a series. But this Celtics team does have that veteran leadership that could come into play.

New York Knicks- 2-0 in favor of the Knicks.
The Knicks took care of the Pacers in a back to back home and away series. This was the same Knicks team that week fired their head coach and won at Portland by 42 points, so maybe this was the wrong team to catch the Knicks. This was also the same week that Danny Granger went out and said that it would be winnable games for the Pacers, and then they didn’t win. If you’re going to talk the talk, you’ve got to back it up. There’s still a game left in this series, and the Pacers can at least get a game in this series.

As it sits, the Pacers would have that first round match up with the Orlando Magic, a team that with Dwight Howard could really take the Pacers out quickly if they play their right game. But the Pacers did show some fight in that game in Orlando as they were able to run away from the Magic, so perhaps that could happen again.

From the looks of it, the Pacers are able to handle the bottom half teams, but struggle with the top half, which is probably about where they would be expected to contend. There’s still the talent and depth on this team that if they got hot at the right time, they could fight with the top half contenders. It would be great for this team to win a playoff series and get that support going forward.

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