This NBA Daily Playoff Preview will take a look at the defending Eastern Conference finalist Indiana Pacers. After their recent success in the playoffs, the Pacers have progressed into one of the elite teams in the NBA. They have held on to first place in the East for the majority of the season, and will be looking to ride that number one seed all the way to the finals.
With a record of 51-20, the Pacers currently hold a two game lead over the Miami Heat for first place in the Eastern Conference. The Pacers came out of the gates flying, as they started the season with a league best record of 9-0. For the first few months of the season, Paul George was earning MVP consideration league wide, as the Pacers continued to be one of the best teams in the league.
Much like their Eastern Conference rivals the Miami Heat, the Pacers have been in a slump as of late. The Pacers have won just 5 of their last 7 games, and Paul George has been unable to find that magic he had earlier in the season. George is averaging 21.8 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists on the year, but lately his play has dipped significantly.
In his last 13 games, George has shot just 36.6 percent from the field and has been held to single digit scoring on multiple occasions, including a 2 and 8-point performance. George has had to deal with a variety of outside personal problems as of late, and to combine that with the pressure of being a young star player on one of the best teams in the NBA is a deadly concoction. Paul George and the Pacers will be looking to get back on track when they battle the Miami Heat on Wednesday night with first place in the East on the line.
Player to Watch in the Playoffs
While Paul George is an instrumental piece of the Indiana Pacers puzzle, it will be Roy Hibbert that will be the most important player for Indiana in the playoffs. During the playoffs last year, Hibbert took advantage of other team’s small line up’s and dominated down low.
In the 2012-13 playoffs Hibbert averaged 17 points per game, while grabbing 10 rebounds per game. Hibbert was one of the main reasons that the Pacers were able to push the Heat to a hard-fought seven game series.
During the Pacers recent slump this year, Hibbert has hardly been featured on the offensive end. In their last two games the Pacers have managed to score just 71 and 77 points, with Hibbert taking a combined 10 field goal attempts. If the Pacers want to make another deep run in the playoffs this year, Roy Hibbert will have to put on his cape and return to his superman form of the 2012-13 playoffs.
How Does Their Season End
The Pacers are still a young team and do not yet have the experience to recover from a massive slump to close out the year. If they no do not find their rhythm by the end of the regular season, it is likely that they will be upset in the second round of the playoffs by one of the up and coming young East squads.
If Indiana is not playing at its best, the Raptors, Bulls, Nets or Wizards all have a chance of taking down the boys from Naptown. If the Pacers are to get back on a track, a victory against the defending champion Miami Heat would certainly be a step in the right direction.
NBA Daily is a daily series providing commentary, predictions, and analysis of events surrounding the NBA.
Commentary By Eric Kummel