Indiana Pacers 2020 Playoff Preview
The Indiana Pacers acquired Malcolm Brogdon, Jeremy Lamb and T.J. Warren in the offseason, and very much so looked like a team on the rise. Despite a few lengthy losing streaks and other hiccups, the Pacers ended up in the middle of the pack in the East.
T.J. Warren was a very pleasant surprise, especially seeing how they stole him from the Phoenix Suns. Warren led the team in scoring. Domantas Sabonis, meanwhile, became an All-Star. Victor Oladipo returned from injury (though he still isn’t back to full speed). Doug McDermott and Aaron Holiday made solid steps forward off the bench.
There’s a lot to like about this Pacers team, who finished fourth in the East and will “host” the Miami Heat in the first-round of the playoffs.
Biggest Strengths: Defense and Playmaking
Indiana has a high-quality defense, one which allowed the third fewest points and sixth fewest three-pointers while forcing the sixth lowest field goal percentage and fourth lowest three point percentage. They also ranked eleventh in blocks.
On the other end of the floor, Indy had a very efficient offense. The team posted the seventh most assists, resulting in the second best field goal percentage in the league and the fifth fewest turnovers. Five Pacers shot at least 48.8 percent from the field and five players averaged at least 2.9 assists.
Biggest Weakness: Rebounding
Indiana ranked 25th in rebounding, and the team will miss their top rebounder in Domantas Sabonis. He is out for the postseason because of a foot injury.
No other Pacer averaged more than 6.6 boards. Miami’s rebounding is just above average but they will likely be able to take advantage of this weakness via Bam Adebayo, who averaged 10.2 caroms and plays with energy and physicality.
Team’s X-Factor: T.J. Warren
Tony Buckets led the team in scoring this season, averaging 19.8 points per game. He went absolute bonkers in the seeding games, being named to the Bubble First Team after shooting a blistering 57.8 percent from the field and 52.4 percent from downtown. Warren made 3.7 triples and averaged 31 points per game in Orlando.
TJ is a playoff virgin, however, and the postseason is a whole different beast. He’ll match up against the trash-talking Jimmy Butler - the two have some history. So, this will be a serious matchup. If Indiana is going to do well, they will TJ Warren to step up.
Player to Watch: Victor Oladipo
Oladipo is still the guy in Indiana, but he’s clearly not fully back to his pre-injury self. Oladipo did average 16 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists in the Bubble.
He’ll no doubt try to bring his best to the postseason, but only time will tell. With Sabonis already out, the Pacers’ best players might not fully be showing up.
Estimated Playoff Run: First Round Exit
Indiana will face the Miami Heat in the first round, without All-Star Domantas Sabonis. While I still expect to see them put up a valiant effort, they will be relying on a player with no playoff experience in TJ Warren. If Oladipo is able to step up and Myles can take that next step, I would not be the least bit surprised if they go more than one round. It just seems like that is asking too much and the Miami Heat are very versatile with a lot of shooters. This round might go the full seven games but I expect Miami to advance.