2013 NBA Playoffs Previews and Predictions: (3) Indiana Pacers vs. (6) Atlanta Hawks

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Feb 5, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers forward Paul George (24) dunks against Atlanta Hawks forward Kyle Korver (26) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana defeats Atlanta 114-103. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The Eastern Conference picture has all but shaken out, and if the playoffs began today (April 10), the Indiana Pacers would be set to draw the Atlanta Hawks as a first round opponent. The series is one with more intrigue than a surface glance would indicate between a third and sixth seed.

The teams split the season series, and Atlanta has to be taken seriously as a threat to remove an Indiana team which may be the biggest non-Heat threat in the East.

Frank Vogel was my choice for the Coach of the Year award, and it’s mainly because he’s been able to guide the Pacers to an elite record without much elite talent. Paul George is an All-Star, and Danny Granger made it in 2009, but the rest of the team is an assemblage of rather average role players.

Center Roy Hibbert is on a max-contract, but may never make an All-Star team. George Hill and Lance Stephenson are a decent backcourt, but are out-classed by the backcourts on most of the true contending teams in the Association.

The Pacers, however, are a much better team than one would be led to believe they are just on paper. That’s kind of the bottom line about this Pacers team: They’re surprisingly better than the sum of their parts, but this Atlanta Hawks team matches up fairly well for a sixth seed.

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