Who could the Indiana Pacers beat in the playoffs?

Edmond Sumner, Caris LaVert Indiana Pacers(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Edmond Sumner, Caris LaVert Indiana Pacers(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

There is a debate about whether or not the Indiana Pacers should strongly pursue a playoff spot this season that will likely result in a first-round exit once again. History has not been in Indiana’s favor and this season is already a disappointment on several levels.

A poor start to the campaign, an injury-riddled roster, and failed expectations have left the Pacers scrapping for a playoff spot as we near the final month of the season. If Indiana does make the playoffs, could they knock off anyone in their path?

Who could the Indiana Pacers beat in the playoffs?

I’ll go ahead and eliminate the Philadelphia 76ers, Brooklyn Nets, and Milwaukee Bucks from this conversation. Indiana simply does not have the star power to match up with any of the top dogs in the East and those three will likely be the top three seeds in the playoffs. Each of those three will present too many problems for the Pacers and it won’t really be a contest.

In order to avoid those three, Indiana would need to clinch the fourth or fifth seed with are still attainable but will require some work to get. Indiana is currently three games behind the Hawks for the fourth seed and 2.5 games back from the Heat in the fifth spot.

Atlanta is a team that could be a good matchup for Indiana as they have won eight of the last nine meetings between the two squads. Of course, Atlanta has added a lot of talent between the end of the last season and this one, making them a tougher out than year’s past. Trae Young could be a problem for Indiana per usual and might change the series by himself.

Young scored 41 points in Atlanta’s win over the Pacers last season and posted 15 points with 14 assists earlier this season. To make matters worse, Indiana will only get Atlanta in the first round by way of a miracle. They would have to lock up the fourth or fifth seed while the Heat – or one of the top three teams – fall to the bottom of the conference, and that just doesn’t seem likely.

The most likely scenario in play for the Pacers to get a top-five seed is for Miami to get the fourth seed as the Hawks falter late in the season. Indiana is playing well and that momentum just may lead to a hot streak into the playoffs. That would allow them to get into the fifth seed and a matchup with the Heat, which is still not favorable for them.

Miami swept Indiana last season but there have been some good battles in the regular season so far in 2021. Still, I think Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler are just too much for Indiana to handle while Victor Oladipo would make it out of the first round without “his city” behind him.

In sum, there is virtually no way the Pacers can get out of the first round of the playoffs this season, and fans are going to be very vocal about the team heading into the summer.