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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'Least' Intimidating: Orlando Magic

First off, the word 'least' is used very lightly here. After all, the Magic won the season series against Indiana 2-1 with two resounding wins earlier in the season. However, it is worth noting that these wins came before the Pascal Siakam trade and back when Tyrese Haliburton had to more or less run the offense by himself.

The first matchup between these teams this season was on November 19 and had a good amount of hype going into it. At the time, the Pacers were the best offensive team in the league but the worst defensive team. On the flip side, the Magic were the best defensive team in the league but the worst offensive team.

Both teams were overachieving before this game and this matchup was seen as a showdown between two teams of the future. On that night, the Magic ended up being victorious as they held Indiana to 44% from the field, 25% from beyond the arc, and made them commit 16 turnovers. In addition, almost every Pacer struggled, with Tyrese Haliburton having his worst game as a Pacer up to that point, with only 12 points and three assists on 4/14 shooting and a -30 plus/minus.

Orlando and Indiana's second matchup a month later on December 23. Coming into this game, the Pacers were on something of a cold streak while Orlando was surging, and Indiana lost their second game to the Magic on this night 117-110 to fall to a .500 record.

Unlike the last game, however, Tyrese Haliburton and the starters had great games, with Haliburton scoring 29 points and dishing out 15 assists on 12/22 shooting. Buddy Hield, Andrew Nembhard, and Myles Turner also showed up with good performances but almost everyone else in Indiana was nonexistent.

Outside of Jalen Smith's 11 points, nobody else in Indiana scored more than three points that night. This game was the complete opposite of the last one, as while the starters showed up, the bench did not come to play.

About 2 and a half months later, Orlando and Indiana met for the final time this season. This time, the Pacers looked much different, as they replaced Hield, Bruce Brown, and Jordan Nwora with Pascal Siakam and Doug McDermott, who did not play that night.

This time, the addition of Siakam proved to be too much for Orlando, as, after a strong first quarter on both ends, the Magic were completely overpowered by the Pacers and only shot 37% from the field and 25% from deep the entire game. In addition to this, while the Pacers didn't exactly shoot lights out, only shooting 48% from the field and 34% from deep, it was just enough to exit with a 111-97 win.

This is exactly why the Pacers have the best chance to beat the Magic out of any team. Even as the season progressed, the Magic did not exactly turn into an offensive powerhouse. With the season almost over, the Magic only average 110.5 points per game, ranking fifth-worst in the league and second-worst among top-eight seeds, second to only the Miami Heat.

Orlando also doesn't take that many threes, shooting only 31.3 per game, third-least in the NBA, and shoots the third-worst clip from the free throw line, at only 75%. Orlando also only dishes out around 24 assists per game, fifth-least in the NBA, and has an overall offensive rating of 112.8, only enough for eighth-worst in the NBA.

Despite their stellar defense and ability to shut down games with players such as Jonathan Isaac, Jalen Suggs, and Paolo Banchero, the Magic are also one of the most inexperienced teams in the NBA, with only a couple of players logging significant playoff minutes.

In fact, the Magic are one of the few playoff teams in the league with less experience with the Pacers. Given their lack of experience, even compared to Indiana, and their incredibly unreliable offense, the Magic are, in my opinion, the least intimidating team for Indiana to face in the playoffs.

Of course, this doesn't mean that the Magic are a walk in the park. After all, they are still one of the best defenses in the league, and for an offensively-reliant team such as Indiana that tends to fall apart when the shots aren't going in, that may be exactly what they don't need in April and May.

Next story. Rick Carlisle gives a possible playoff rotation preview. dark. Next

Overall, every one of the teams listed can give the Pacers a run for their money, and in turn, the Pacers can also give every one of these teams a good fight, except for Boston. With only 20 days remaining until the NBA playoffs start and seeding becoming more concrete, the Pacers are now fighting to keep their playoff hopes alive and hopefully get a favorable matchup come April 20.