Blogtable: Upset-minded team in East?

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.

BLOGTABLE: Extend the season? | Rethinking age limit? | Upset-minded East playoff team?

VIDEOPaul George is holding out hope he’ll be able to return for a potential playoff run

> If I told you a sleeper team was going to pull off a major upset in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, which team would you tag to make that prediction come true: Bucks, Pacers, Hornets or Heat?

Steve Aschburner, Pacers, though I say that without trying to predict the first-round matchups. Indiana already is a different team that most foes have faced this season, and if Paul George is able to return and blend into what’s already working, the Pacers could bite a top seed in the behind. Now, if they wind up eighth and Atlanta stays at No. 1, that’s a tall order because the Hawks came close to upsetting them a year ago and are better now. But given the Pacers’ pride and desire to salvage what had been a mostly lost season, I’d take them very seriously.

Fran Blinebury, The Bucks with their stingy, No. 2-rated defense, 3-point shooting ability, rising youth in Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Michael Carter-Williams and the been-there-done-that smarts of coach Jason Kidd. They could be a we-having-nothing-to-lose handful.

Scott Howard-Cooper, Maybe I’m just getting caught up in the good vibrations of the moment — stringing together wins, Paul George back on the practice court — but I’ll go Pacers. Same problems scoring, but Indy defends and rebounds. Tough not to like that as a starting point for an upset, obviously depending on the matchup. I’d put the Bucks a close second.

Shaun Powell, Honestly, I don’t like any of their chances, but I’ll go with the Bucks. They’ll likely have a better seeding and therefore a more evenly-matched first round. Plus, they’re young with fresh legs that’ll come in handy in late April, and their coach, Jason Kidd, has been there and done that in this league.

John Schuhmann, Indiana is the clear pick. The Pacers have been the best team in the league (both in regard to record and point differential) since Feb. 1. They have a great defense and an offense that has improved with a healthy George Hill in the starting lineup and Rodney Stuckey coming off the bench. They have a coach and a roster with playoff experience, and maybe one of the league’s best players coming back. But I would still have a hard time picking them against Atlanta, Chicago or Cleveland. 

Sekou Smith, I’m tagging the Pacers and relishing the idea, based on the standings at this moment, of a Cleveland Cavaliers-Pacers No. 2 vs No. 7 first-round matchup. Talk about a major upset, this one would be colossal. Paul George comes back. Roy Hibbert rediscovers the All-Star within. Coach Frank Vogel gets his revenge for last season’s meltdown and the team’s staggering fall from grace. Doing it at the expense of long-time foe LeBron James would only add to the intrigue of a storybook scenario for the Pacers … and it is indeed an absolute fantasy. I don’t think there are any upsets to be had in the first round. Not based on what we see in the standings right now.

Ian Thomsen, The Pacers are the East’s poor-man version of OKC. Based on their current trend with their best players – including Paul George – returning to health, then no one at the top of the standings is going to want to see Indiana.

Lang Whitaker,’s All Ball blog: I have a hard time pegging the Pacers as an underdog, even as long as Paul George is out. This is a team with guys like Roy Hibbert, David West, George Hill, Luis Scola — quality NBA veteran players. I know that they’ve been without George this season and have dealt with other injuries, but if anything, to me the Pacers have the pieces to be better than they’ve been for most of this season. And then it’s not if George returns, it’s which George might return — I don’t expect to see the George who was one of the best players in the NBA, because that will take time to find and get back to, even just mentally. But I do think if they can get back any version of George that provides depth and is able to knock down an occasional open jumper, that could be a huge postseason help.

Upset-minded East teams
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  1. MalissaDycus says:

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  2. Bulls FTW says:

    Jason Kidd is a miracle worker
    I don’t know names past Giannis and mcw

  3. Kirby Record says:

    Agree the Pacers are dangerous. But can’t forget last year when they were the team people had boasted about all year as the ones to beat Miami. They were healthy, they had the best record in the East, and they were confident–till they got their heads handed to them in a surprisingly easy series win for the Heat. History doesn’t always repeat itself but it usually does.

  4. Indiana'sownLarryBird says:

    This Pacers team is better on offense and still playing good D, and right now there the 7th seed and the Cavs will be the 2 seed, bring on Lebron, we ready,

  5. harriethehawk says:

    Jason Kidd and the Milwaukee Bucks. The Pacers can’t beat the Hawks or the Cavaliers, not this year, no sir.

  6. harriethehawk says:

    Jason Kidd and the Milwaukee Bucks. The Pacers can’t beat the Hawks or the Cavaliers. Not this year people.

  7. lacolem1 says:

    The Pacers will get smoked in the first round. As a 7th or 8th seed, they stand no chance. If they move up to the 6th seed, they could maybe extend a team like Chicago to 6 or 7 games, but they’re still not advancing.

    It’s one thing for the Pacers to catch a superior team off-guard in the regular season, or beat a playoff team in the regular season that’s injured or resting guys, but the playoffs are a different beast.

    • wowza says:

      Pacers ain’t getting smoked by any team in the East. Just remember that the Pacers have the main group of players that went to the ECF (2) yrs in a row minus P.G. and L.S. Lance took the ball out the Hills hands and that is why we lost in conjunction with R.Hibbert shutting down a month before the playoffs. Pacers have learned to play without relying on Roy to carry 50% of the load. Our bench is so much better and that takes the heat off of the starters who had to provide 85% of all the scoring in the past. Pacers are a far more balanced team than they have been over the past (3) years. Not saying they are going to upset anyone but if any team is going to do it will be the Pacers. And no they will NOT get smoked by anyone.