NBA Eastern Conference: Predicting the Winners of the First Round Matchups

4 of 5

3. Indiana Pacers vs 6. Atlanta Hawks

Mar 25, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers guard Gerald Green (25) lays the ball in against Atlanta Hawks guard Jeff Teague (0) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana defeats Atlanta 100-94. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Despite lots of offensive woes, the Pacers are back in the playoffs. And, they have a great chance at beating an average Atlanta team.

The Pacers and Hawks split the season series, with Atlanta taking the first two games and Indiana winning the final two. The Hawks are an average offensive and defensive team, and it’s likely that the Hawks get shut down by the league’s second-best defense (in terms of points allowed). Atlanta is slightly above-average in opponent field goal percentage, as opponents shoot about 45 percent against the Hawks.

Indiana should be able to create some offense, but they won’t need to score a ton. The Pacers allowed an average of 90.5 PPG, and opponents shot less than 42 percent against Indiana; which was the best in the league. Atlanta is an average scoring team, and they aren’t a great defensive team either. Atlanta isn’t dominating in any one phase of the game, and in addition to their lack of dominance, they are a very poor rebounding team.

And the Pacers? They’re the best rebounding team in the NBA.

The matchups favor the Pacers, and it’s hard to see Indiana, a team with only 11 home losses, losing this series. Atlanta will need to get hot and steal one road game, and they’ll need to protect their home court. The Hawks have their work cut out for them, and as of right now, Atlanta’s outlook is very bleak. If Josh Smith can lead the offense and if the Hawks can score a sufficient amount of points, it’s possible, but otherwise, it’s not likely.

Why? Because it’s never easy to go on the road and beat a dominant defensive team.

Prediction: Pacers in six.