The Indiana Pacers survived two elimination games vs. the Atlanta Hawks and now can breathe a little bit easier heading into round two. They stressed the importance of having the deciding game at their home court and it pair off. They now move on to take on the Washington Wizards, a team they match up much better with.
After a series that saw Pacers head coach Frank Vogel making rotation moves to try and counter a smaller perimeter shooting team, the team now welcomes a new opponent of a different style. The Wizards still have an impressive starting frontcourt in Marcin Gortat and Nene Hilario, a duo that averaged 28.5 PPG and 16 RPG combined in their first-round series with the Chicago Bulls.
With that being said, Roy Hibbert becomes a factor in this series, specifically on the defensive end, which will give the Pacers a huge advantage. Wizards point guard John Wall is one of the most explosive players in the NBA, but if he is able to penetrate into the lane, the brick wall in Hibbert will be there waiting, something that was not the case in round one.
The main advantage for the Pacers in this series will no doubt be star Paul George. His numbers in round one were absolutely ridiculous, averaging 23.9 PPG, 10.7 RPG and 4.6 APG. Moving on to the next round, the confidence for George is there and he will continue his success in overmatching the Wizards to help move his team to the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Pacers have had an interesting season and an even more interesting postseason; every day, more people are either calling for someone to be benched or are ready to say that the team is back on track. For now, the support is there and most believe that they are the favorite in this series. We will see if that holds true starting tonight. For my series prediction I’ve got the Pacers 4-1.