It was a jubilant scene at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse when the Pacers brought home an overtime victory over the competitive Miami Heat squad on March 25, the Pacers had surprised many by guaranteeing themselves a spot in the playoffs this season. The Pacers have been criminally under-appreciated throughout most of the season, flying under the radar. Now, with only a few games to go in the regular season it is time for the Pacers squad to begin turning their attention to their most likely first-round opponents.
Currently, the Pacers lock down the number 5 seed in the Eastern Conference which means if the playoffs begun today they would face the upstart Philadelphia 76ers (who have the same record, but hold the tiebreakers. This seems to be the most likely outcome as both teams have similar strengths of schedule in their remaining games. The 76ers are a young team and fun to watch, but the recent injury to their center Joel Embiid leaves a big hole in the lineup. However, with reports that Embiid could actually make it back in time for the playoffs — the Pacers shouldn’t rest easy.
Another potential opponent is the Cleveland Cavaliers. There is, of course, the best player in the world who suits up for the Cavs — LeBron James. The Cavs have had a roller-coaster season and are still figuring out their roster, however, so the chemistry of the Pacers could give them a puncher’s chance in a potential series.
One thing is for certain: the Pacers should be proud of the regular season they put together. No matter what happens in the playoffs (or who they play) the Pacers can hang their hat on the fact they exceeded expectations by a longshot.