Potential first-round playoff preview matchup for the Pacers on Friday

Indiana could see an Eastern Conference foe again soon in the postseason.
Cleveland Cavaliers v Indiana Pacers
Cleveland Cavaliers v Indiana Pacers / Justin Casterline/GettyImages

Friday night's contest at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse is between two teams looking to extend their season into next week and further. Currently, the Pacers are 46-34 and sixth overall in the Eastern Conference.

While being tied with the Orlando Magic, the Cleveland Cavaliers are just one game ahead of the Pacers. That could change, for better or worse, after their upcoming game.

The Pacers lead the season series, thus far, 2-1. Indiana won the first two contests earlier in the season within the first five games.

On the road, Indiana won the second game of the season, 125-113, largely in part because of Aaron Nesmith's 26 points and nine rebounds. Tyrese Haliburton has 21 points, 13 assists with eight rebounds and Myles Turner also recorded a double-double with 20 points and 12 rebounds.

Three games later, the Pacers hosted the Cavs, again winning, 121-116. Turner came up big again with 27 points and 9 boards.

The Pacers lost a 108-103 last month in Indianapolis to the Cavs. Cleveland had made twice as many free throws as Indiana, 20-10. Haliburton and Pascal Siakam filled the scoreboard to make the game close.

Haliburton had 14 points and 12 assists while Siakam produced 19 points and 12 rebounds. However, their efforts weren't enough as the Pacers scored almost 20 points below their season average a game.

Cavaliers shooting guard Donovan Mitchell has only played in the game against the Pacers at Cleveland on November 3rd. In that contest, he torched Indiana's defense with 38 points and 9 assists.

What's at stake for the Pacers on Friday in Cleveland?

If the Pacers lose, it could drop them closer to the Play-In. The top six teams qualify for the playoffs automatically as seeds 7-10 have a few more hurdles to make the postseason.

With a win, the Pacers can help their cause to avoid that scenario and potentially even jump to the fourth or fifth spot in the Eastern Conference standings. Indiana has won seven of their last ten entering this game as Cleveland has dropped six of their last ten.

In fact, the last time that Indiana won a playoff series was in 2018 against Cleveland in a first-round sweep. The Pacers demolished the Cavs 121-87 in the close-out game.

While it still may be a stretch for Indiana to have home-court advantage in the first round of the NBA playoffs, a third victory over Cleveland can't hurt their efforts. Haliburton and company have their hands full on Friday to say the least.

Prediction: The last two matchups this season between these teams have been five-point victories. But the Pacers have about a dozen five-point losses, too. If Indiana can limit Donovan Mitchell's scoring, they have a good shot.

Next. Next story. Three most important players for the Pacers for their end of the season run. dark

Behind the league's best offense, Haliburton, Turner, and Siakam could be too much for the Cavaliers. Indiana braves through another close game as they win 116-112.