PROJECTION: Pacers Should Have Little Trouble With Magic

The Indiana Pacers enter the NBA playoffs as one of the more underappreciated contenders. Given that their first-round series against the Orlando Magic should be free of drama (and that two of the first four games will be stuck on NBA TV), that should continue.

The Log5 projection system gives Indiana a strong advantage against Orlando ... without accounting for the fact that Dwight Howard played most of the season for the Magic but will be out for the postseason. That reality figures to amplify the effect and allow the Pacers to coast.

Here's the map of the probabilities of the various series outcomes:

Pacers-magic_medium

Again, Log5 uses regular season Pythagorean win percentage, and Dwight Howard was a huge boost to Orlando's in-season performance. The numbers are robust enough to get a reliable answer, but suffice it to say that the Magic's performances sans Dwight was bad enough that an Indiana sweep wouldn't be unexpected.

Based on the full regular season numbers, though, this series looks a lot like Heat-Knicks: the Magic would be expected to peel off at least one at home, and the 2-0 lead for the Pacers isn't a given. We'll see if the Magic can rally without their All-NBA center and live up to the projection.

PICK: Pacers in 5

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