Pacers fans should root for the Cavaliers to make the playoffs

Tyrese Haliburton, Darius Garland - Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Tyrese Haliburton, Darius Garland - Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports /

Coming off their final home game of the season, the Indiana Pacers have just a couple of games remaining before they can bid goodbye to their largely deflating 2021-22 NBA season. However, beyond the sentiments, they still have something to root for as the postseason looms.

With only a week left before the regular season ends, Pacers fans should keep an eye on the Cleveland Cavaliers, which have sputtered as of late and have largely struggled since an upstart rise before the All-Star Break.

Why Indiana Pacers fans should root for the Cleveland Cavaliers to qualify for the playoffs

While having to root for another team is reflective of being on the outside looking in, the Indiana Pacers are incentivized to have the Cavaliers win as many games as they can to end the regular season. After all, the team owns Cleveland’s first-round selection in the upcoming draft, which they acquired in the Caris LeVert deal, where the Pacers also acquired Ricky Rubio and two second-round picks.

Hold your brakes though. As you may already know by now, the to-be conveyed pick is a lottery-protected one, meaning that the Cavs should make the playoffs for the Pacers to keep it. And no, qualifying for the play-in tournament will not be enough.

As things currently stand, Cleveland sits firmly at seventh place in the East, up by a game and a half above Brooklyn and Atlanta. However, with how they have played as of late, they could be in precarious situation to end the regular season if they don’t sharpen up in time. Brooklyn has two gimmes against New York and (sadly) Indiana, and their star-laden roster will be in for a crucial meeting against the Cavaliers soon.

light. Must Read. NBA Draft Big Board: Top 10 Prospects for the Pacers

Meanwhile, Atlanta will also face lottery squads in Washington and Houston, though they are slated for an outing against Miami. Nevertheless, with Cleveland still having Brooklyn and Milwaukee on their slate, things can become iffy for them.

If the Cavaliers drop both contests and cascade into 9th place, they would have to reel in two wins just to qualify for the playoffs. And I’m not sure if they would be favored against a Durant and Irving-led Nets team and a determined Hawks team that has regrouped after an underwhelming start. Even the Hornets are bona fide threats to beat them in a one-and-done game.

To put things simply, the Pacers, which have little else to play for, should keep a close eye on the brewing playoff positioning for the lower seeds in the East, as their range of draft assets will be impacted by how things unfold for the Cavaliers entering the postseason.

Next. Re-grading the Haliburton-Sabonis trade two months later. dark