Need a rooting interest? Here are the Pacers' ties to the final eight playoff teams.
The Pacers aren't in the NBA playoffs for the second straight year, but many who played or coached in Indy are. From George Hill to Torrey Craig and assistant Dan Burke.
The 2022 NBA Playoffs are ongoing and for Pacers fans, your team is on the outside for the second year in a row. It makes their streak prior to that — 25 appearances in 31 seasons — even more impressive.
But all good things must come to an end. The Pacers have pivoted and are now in a transition season. The previous iteration was like trying to reheat frozen pizza for the fifth time. It’s good fresh out of the oven and maybe one day later, but then it’s no good.
So the team made three deals at the trade deadline and finished the season with 25 wins, thus earning a top 10 pick for the first time since 1989.
Now what for Pacers fans? You have to sit tight until May 17, which is when the draft lottery will be held in Chicago and we’ll all find out where exactly they’ll be drafting on June 23rd. That’s the next big thing.
They have 11.5 percent chance at securing the top overall pick and a 42 percent shot at landing inside the top four.
Throughout the playoffs, you may want a team to root for. So here’s an easy guide with local connections that can help you choose with just eight teams still playing.
1 Heat vs 4 76ers
Victor Oladipo is back from injury (again) and is playing in the second round for the first time in his career.
That’s all I got for the Heat.
Former Pacers executive Peter Dinwiddie is in his second season as the 76ers’ executive vice president of basketball operations. He’s a Cathedral and IU grad, and despite having a law degree, he got his start in professional sports by selling tickets for the Pacers.
Skill development coach Chris Babcock is close to T.J. McConnell, who credits him for much of his development early on.
The 76ers’ roster includes Georges Niang, the Pacers’ second-round pick in 2016. He remains good friends with Tyrese Haliburton due to their ties to Iowa State University.
Head athletic trainer Kevin Johnson is from Indy, attended Indiana State University and he spent four seasons with the Pacers (1990-94).
2 Celtics vs 3 Bucks
Zionsville native Brad Stevens is no longer coach of the Celtics. He shifted to a front office role (president of basketball operations) last summer after eight seasons as head coach.
IU product Juwan Morgan was added to the Celtics just last month.
On the Bucks, Indy native George Hill is still seeking his first NBA championship. He hasn't played in almost a month due to an abdomen injury.
Bucks Jrue Holiday is one of the best guys in the NBA, often underrated, and he’s donated much of his salary in recent years to good causes. He’s younger than Justin, but older than Aaron, and married to former Ben Davis High School soccer standout Lauren Cheney.
Assistant coach Chad Forcier had earned his way up the league and spent time on the Pacers’ bench from 2003-07.
Forward Wesley Matthews played 23 games with the Pacers during the 2018-19 season.
The Bucks are in the Central Division and a smaller market team, and Giannis Antetokounmpo, among the best players in the NBA, re-signed with the team that drafted him. And it’s a fun subplot for them to try to win back-to-back titles.
1 Suns vs 4 Mavericks
The Suns were the best regular-season team, winning 64 games — 32 at home, 32 on the road. They’ve never won a championship, and neither has lead point guard Chris Paul, who is thriving (and highly influential) at 36 years old.
It’s a group that went undefeated in the Orlando bubble two seasons ago.
The Suns’ general manager is James Jones, who the Pacers drafted 49th overall in 2003. He spent two seasons with the franchise before being dealt to Phoenix.
Former Pacers wing Torrey Craig returned to the Suns midseason thanks to a trade that brought Jalen Smith to Indy. Both would get championship rings.
Pacers' 2018 first-round pick (23) Aaron Holiday joined the Suns after beginning the season with the Wizards.
Suns head coach Monty Williams is genuine and one of the great coaches in the league. He’s the favorite to be named Coach of the Year. Former Pacers guard Jarrett Jack (2008-09) is on his staff.
The Mavericks have Luka Doncic and won their first playoff series since their 2011 championship run.
Darrell Armstrong didn’t follow Rick Carlisle to Indy. He stayed back and joined Jason Kidd’s staff. And you’re excused if you forgot, but he spent one season with the Pacers (2006-07).
Kristi Toliver is still an active WNBA player (with the LA Sparks), but instead of going overseas during their offseason, she’s on the Mavs’ bench getting valuable coaching experience.
2 Grizzlies vs 3 Warriors
This might be the most fun series; Celtics-Bucks is close, though.
Ja Morant on the big stage.
Grizzlies have several players from Indiana: Jaren Jackson Jr., who played at Park Tudor and then La Lumiere, Desmond Bane from Richmond and Purdue Fort Wayne product John Konchar.
Assistant coach Dave McClure and player development assistant coach Joshua Henderson were previously with the Pacers. Vitaly Potapenko was, too, for one season (2010-11).
In addition to the stars everyone knows, individual growth in Warriors players like Jordan Poole and Gary Payton II has been a joy to watch.
It’s so good to see Klay Thompson back playing again after he missed two seasons due to injuries. With LeBron James and other stars not even making the playoffs, it’s good that they’re still in it.
The Warriors’ coaching staff includes former Pacers assistant coach Mike Brown (2003-05) and Leandro Barbosa, who played just 22 games with the team. Mike Dunleavy Jr. is the assistant GM.
Did I miss a name? Or do you have a different reason to root for a team? Share below in the comments.