Analysis: Despite capturing the East's No. 1 seed, the Pacers enter the playoffs as a team in need of a reset. After carrying a conference-best 40-12 record into the All-Star break, Indiana has struggled to a 16-14 mark. The rut reached its lowest point on April 9 when, following a 2-7 stretch, coach Frank Vogel opted to rest all of his starters against the lowly Bucks (a game the Pacers naturally won).
While the Pacers have maintained a stellar defense that surrenders 92.3 points per game and holds opponents to 42 percent shooting, the offense has frequently fizzled in the season's second half. Indiana is plagued by an unproductive second unit (28th in bench scoring) even though midseason acquisitions Evan Turner and Andrew Bynum were meant to alleviate those concerns. Turner has averaged 6.8 points in 20 minutes off the bench after scoring 17.4 points in 54 starts for the 76ers. Bynum has made just two appearances but could still be a factor in the playoffs if his knees allow it.
Though the Pacers lack the positive momentum they'd hoped for heading into the playoffs, the goal remains the same: finally break through the Miami Heat and into the NBA Finals.
Analysis: The Hawks lost their best player, Al Horford, 29 games into the season to a pectoral tear. With a 16-13 record at the time of Horford's injury, Atlanta has since gone 22-31, just good enough to sneak into the playoffs as the No. 8 seed.
Filling in for Horford has been Paul Millsap, a free-agent signing averaging team-highs with 17.9 points and 8.5 boards per game. Mike Scott, Pero Antic and Elton Brand have also been called upon down low.
On the perimeter, Jeff Teague is second in scoring with 16.5 points per game and also dishes a team-high 6.7 assists. Marksman Kyle Korver averages 2.6 threes, a per-game output that ranks fifth in the league. The season did bring an end to Korver's run of consecutive games with at least one three-pointer though. He connected on a three in 127 consecutive games before going 0-for-5 on March 5. Still, the streak shattered Dana Barros' previous record of 89.
Speaking of streaks, the Hawks' streak of playoff appearances now stands at seven consecutive years, but it seems unlikely the team can avoid its third consecutive first-round exit.
Winning Percentage of 1,001 Simulations: Pacers 69.5% - Hawks 30.5%
Average Score: Pacers 98.2 - Hawks 95.2
Series MVP: Paul George - 20.4 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 3.9 APG
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