The Indiana Pacers & the Washington Wizards enter their Eastern Conference Semifinals match-up in remarkably different fashion.
The Pacers were considered the toast of the league during the all-star break then it all went downhill. Despite the regular season collapse the Pacers still managed the #1 seed and their 1st round matchup with the Atlanta Hawks was going to be a cake walk….Not so fast… The (38-44) Hawks pushed the Pacers to Game 7. The Hawks took advantage of several match-up advantages…..Jeff Teague exposed George Hill.
The Wizards was considered a good team , but the biggest knock on them was their lack of playoff experience coupled with a young backcourt. The Wizards simply demolished the Chicago Bulls in their 1st round match-up in 5 games. Wall and Beal proved their critics as the nearly averaged 20 PPG a piece in their series vs Chicago.
In a series like this generally the best player is the deciding factor & Paul George fits that bill. George flexed his muscle in Game 7 vs the Hawks pouring in a career playoff high 30 points and 11 rebounds….expect him to have several nights like this!
Most Intriguing Matchups:
Paul George vs Trevor Ariza
Lance Stephenson vs Bradley Beal
The Wizards Win if: John Wall completely dominate his matchup against George Hill & have a Jeff Teague-esque series coupled with Trevor Ariza ability to neutralize Paul George.
The Pacers Win if: Roy Hibbert comes back to All-Star form (the classic big man that is missing in today’s game) & Paul George must take over offensively night end night out!
Prediction: Pacers in 6!!
The Indiana Pacers (56-26) and the Atlanta Hawks (38-44) square off once again in the first round of the NBA Playoffs (Pacers defeated the Hawks in 6 games last year). The Pacers are limping into this series (10-13 in last 23 games) despite being 46-13 once upon a time. During the post All-Star collsape of the Pacers their most head shaking loss came at the hands of the Hawks as they were defeated 107-88. If the Pacers are limping in the Hawks have damn near crawled in the playoffs being the only team under .500 to make it to this years playoffs. The Hawks have a multitude of match-up problems with the Pacers. Paul George’s(21.7 PPG) ability to slash to the basket will definitely flourish in this series along with David West’s (14.0 PPG) midrange dominance & hopefully a rejuvenated Roy Hibbert will give Atlanta a world of trouble. The Hawks are a terrific passing team in which provides open looks to their skilled shooters (The Hawks are among the leauge leaders in 3 Pointers made). Can the Hawks be the 9th #8 seed to knock off the #1 seed since 1985? ABSOUTLEY NOT!!!
Prediction: Pacers in 5