Ranking the Pacers possible playoff opponents from most to least intimidating

With the Pacers set to participate in at least the Play-In tournament soon, let's take a look at who they may face in the playoffs.

Indiana Pacers v Milwaukee Bucks
Indiana Pacers v Milwaukee Bucks / Patrick McDermott/GettyImages
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3. Milwaukee Bucks

The Bucks are an interesting case.

On paper and without context, you might be laughed out of the building for saying the Pacers can beat Milwaukee in a playoff series, hence why they're not in the top half of the list. After all, this is still Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard we're talking about here. Many have them as the only team in the East fit to take down the Celtics before the finals.

However, the Pacers' history with Milwaukee must be taken into consideration. Indiana is 4-1 against the Bucks this season, with two of those wins being close affairs and two coming by double-digits. Between those wins is the Pacers' lone loss to Milwaukee on December 13. However, this game is not exactly remembered for the play rather than what transpired after.

If you've been following the Pacers or the NBA in general this season, you probably know the story. Giannis Antetokounmpo scored a career-high 64 and the Bucks won 140-126. However, Antetokounmpo and the Bucks thought they did not receive their game ball after the buzzer and rushed Indiana's locker room to retrieve it.

As it turned out, the Bucks did have the ball all along and Indiana took a secondary ball to give to rookie Oscar Tshiebwe for his first official NBA points. This seemingly lit a fire under Pacers and Bucks fans and made their upcoming January 1 and 3 matchups all the more exciting.

Unfortunately for the Bucks, Indiana had other plans. Rather than two hard-fought affairs, Indiana wiped the floor with Milwaukee on both nights, winning both games by a combined total of 21 points and thoroughly embarrassing Antetokounmpo and the Bucks to the point where Giannis apparently thinks about those losses during rather inappropriate times.

This sparks up the previous comments about the mental advantage. If there is a mental advantage between these two, it belongs to the Pacers. The Bucks certainly have not forgotten about the In-Season Tournament loss as well as the subsequent losses that followed, and the Pacers currently hold the high ground, leading 4-1 in the season series without Pascal Siakam.

With the addition of Siakam, a new body to put on Giannis instead of Aaron Nesmith, who was guarding him prior, the Pacers may be better matched for the Bucks now than they were earlier in the season when they were dominating them.

That being said, this is still Giannis and Dame we're talking about here. All it takes is a few good games from Giannis and a few vintage Lillard performances to make the regular season series feel like a distant memory. A series between the Pacers and Bucks can go either way, but the Bucks just may have enough top-end talent to come out on top, despite the mental advantage Tyrese Haliburton and company may have.