Ever since Victor Oladipo went down with a season-ending leg injury on January 23rd, no playoff team in the NBA has a worse record (17-19) than the Pacers. It’s with this backdrop that the Celtics walked into the ideal matchup for themselves in the first round of the postseason — despite the injury to Marcus Smart. The Pacers are a group of scrappy overachievers with grit, but they lack the talent to score at the level needed in the NBA Playoffs, particularly without their All-Star guard.
With that said, plenty of teams with lesser talent have given the Celtics all kinds of problems this season and Boston will certainly be more vulnerable on the defensive end of the floor without Smart in the mix for at least Round 1. With that mind, let’s take a closer look at what exactly the Pacers do well, where they will try to attack Boston and what the x-factors will be in the first round matchup when Indiana has the ball.
The Basics (Post Oladipo Injury — 39 games)
Pace: 99.89 (27th in NBA)
OffRtg: 107.0 (21st)
DefRtg: 106.8 (10th)
NetRtg: +0.2 (15th)
Turning turnovers into points: The Pacers rank third in the NBA (17.8 points per game off turnovers) in taking advantage of opponent miscues, a trait that is reflective of their ability to maximize opportunities. They don’t run much (third slowest pace in the NBA) but they are very good at forcing turnovers (third in NBA) and that translates into quick points thanks to their speed in the backcourt (Darren Collison, Cory Joseph, Tyreke Evans). They have guys who know how to finish on the break and they play selfless basketball that ultimately turns into a lot of good shots in transition opportunities. Losing Oladipo hurts in a lot of areas but this is one part of their game they have continued to thrive in despite his absence. The Celtics have done a good job all season taking care of the ball (top-5 in NBA) and that will need to continue here to prevent Indiana from getting easy points that they desperately need for an overall subpar offense.
3-point shooting: Incredibly, the Pacers have been the