Indiana Pacers playoff roundtable: Who will win the series?

Indiana Pacers versus Boston Celtics
Indiana Pacers versus Boston Celtics /
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Kyrie Irving and Cory Joseph
Kyrie Irving and Cory Joseph /

Indiana drew the Celtics in round one – a team that beat them twice in the last two weeks of the regular season. How favorable of a matchup would you say Boston is for the Indiana Pacers?

Parrish – This isn’t the best match-up for Indiana, but it could be much worse. Although Boston won three of four during the season, the Pacers kept it close, and three of the games were thrillers that went down to the wire. Now this comes with a caveat, Victor Oladipo won’t be available as we all know, and he always seems to dominate against Boston. The Celtics are on a bit of a hot streak though, too, and they seem to be trending in the right direction. Plus, their two recent wins over the Pacers seem to suggest that they have Indiana’s number. At least we don’t have Philly in round one.

Furr – Well, the matchup is better now that Marcus Smart will miss the series. The only way the Pacers would’ve gotten any matchup that I’d call “favorable” would be if they had home court. Neither Boston (without Smart) or Philly (potentially missing Embiid) is full strength, but both cause matchup problems for the Pacers, who just don’t have enough depth on the wing. It doesn’t matter much which team they play; rather, it’s how they play.

Matthes – As a whole, they aren’t. Individually there are matchups that favor the Pacers and are exploitable. The Pacers have the best three-point shooter (Bojan Bogdanovic), rebounder (Domantas Sabonis), interior presence (Sabonis again) and rim-protector (Myles Turner) in the series. Those are all real advantages if the Pacers can actually take advantage of them. The Pacers also play together more cohesively than the Celtics do, but that alone doesn’t guarantee victory. Boston does have the best individual player in the series (Kyrie Irving) and Irving’s presence will be imposing. Boston also has the strength inside (Al Horford, Aron Baynes, and Marcus Morris) and while the Celtic trio isn’t as good as Indiana’s (Sabonis, Turner and Thaddeus Young) it’s also not the overwhelming matchup advantage that Indiana would have against most teams. Boston, at a minimum, has a check for every advantage the Pacers have.

Pfeifer – Given the injury to Marcus Smart, I’d probably prefer this matchup to Philadelphia, but neither is good for the Oladipo-less Pacers. None of the East’s big four are. Boston’s dysfunctional season provides a bit of hope but their raw talent (Kyrie Irving) alone should be enough to snuff Indy’s torch. The Pacers will have a few avenues they can exploit, mainly forcing Terry Rozier and Marcus Morris to create, but nothing will be enough to give them a realistic shot here.

Eggers: Honestly, about as favorable as any of the other top 4 seeds in the East. At the end of the day, sans Oladipo, the Pacers lack the offensive firepower to be considered a major threat to the Celtics or any of the other Eastern Conference contenders. If there’s one difference between the four, it’s that Boston’s star player is a quick-footed 6’3″ guard with incredible handles, a player that the Pacers have a lot less defensive answers for than some of the other East stars (Thad can guard Kawhi/Giannis to some extent, and Myles Turner has more of a prayer against Embiid than the current guard core has against Kyrie).