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NBA Atlanta HawksIndiana Pacers

2013 NBA Playoffs: Indiana Pacers Will Build Inside Edge in Series Against Atlanta Hawks

Brian Spurlock-USA Today Sports

A season ago, the Indiana Pacers earned their first playoff series victory since 2005, advancing to the Eastern Conference semifinal before bowing out at the hands of the Miami Heat.

Here in 2013, the Pacers are back and once again looking like a true “dark horse” threat in the Eastern Conference. While much of the attention circulates around the Heat and the New York Knicks, Indiana is gearing up in their own attempt to make some noise this postseason. Their first round opponent here in 2013 — the Atlanta Hawks.

While the Hawks boast the front court duo of Josh Smith and Al Horford, Atlanta ranks 23rd in the NBA in rebounds per game. Indiana on the other hand, is the league’s top team in that statistical category. Roy Hibbert and David West form an aggressive and defensive-minded tandem in the paint and that’s where the Pacers should certainly look to attack the Hawks in this series. If Indiana can build an advantage early and often in the paint, the Pacers shouldn’t have much trouble returning to the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

Neither team is heading into this series playing great basketball, as Indiana has dropped three consecutive games, while Atlanta has lost back-to-back contests. But this of course maybe simply be related to rest. Either way it’s crunch time now and the instant momentum goes to the Pacers even despite the two splitting their four game series during the regular season. Atlanta won the first two games, but Indiana responded as the season continued by winning the last two.

Game 1 tip-off between the Pacers and the Hawks is scheduled for 1:00pm (EST) on Sunday.


Follow Paul Seaver on Twitter: @PaulSeaverRS