No rest for the weary. Two days after finishing a grueling race against the Knicks, the Pacers are back on the starting block lined up next to the formidable Boston Celtics.

First and foremost, I just want to shine some extra light on something that gives me no end of hope for the future. Regardless of who was playing for the Knicks, the Pacers showed up to Game 7 at MSG and shot the leather off the ball. I've said a million times that this team appears to be at its best when the stakes are the highest and the way the Pacers closed out New York made me look smart. Down 3-2, season on the line, the Pacers torched the Knicks twice in a row.

Being clutch is the difference between contender and pretender in the NBA. The fact that the team has the chemistry and intangibles – not to mention talent – to perform on the biggest stages makes me think that it could conceivably win a championship in the near (maybe nearer than you think) future.

Getting past the Celtics will be a Herculean, though not impossible, task. The Celtics are built for the slog of the playoffs. Their starting backcourt made the All-Defense Second Team today. Their starting forwards are some of the most efficient isolation scorers in the league. Their starting center (whenever he returns) is a certified Unicorn (rim defense + three point shooting). They are laden with veteran talent and they've been knocking on the door of a title for multiple seasons in a row.

How will the upstart Pacers manage to overcome a team that is clearly (and with good reason) favored? They'll do it by playing their own game. Speeding up the pace, generating open looks, and hoping that they get enough stops to finish the game with a lead.

This series will come down to focus and stamina. Can the Pacers remain locked in for 48 minutes, night after night? If the answer is yes, this series is going to surprise a lot of people. If they run out of gas, we'll be toasting the end of the most fun season in a decade at some point next week.

Let's hope the tank is full.


Porzingis is out. Pacers are healthy.

How to Watch

Tipoff is at 8:00 PM ET.


Radio: 93.5/107.5 The Fan

See ya in the comments!

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