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NBA playoffs 2013, Pacers vs. Hawks: David West, Josh Smith square off

Whichever team's frontcourt plays better will likely advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals.


When the Indiana Pacers and Atlanta Hawks meet in the first round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs, there will be no shortage of star power on the floor.

The Pacers, regarded as one of the top defensive teams in the league, really rely on their frontcourt to carry the load offensively. Paul George leads the team with 17.4 points per game and typically has the ball in his hands late when Indiana really needs a basket. David West is one of the more efficient players in the Eastern Conference and does a great job around the paint. Roy Hibbert has become one of the best shot blockers in the conference.

So who makes everything go? That would be point guard George Hill, who averages 14.2 points and 4.7 assists a game. When he's making good decisions with the ball in his hands, Indiana becomes very difficult to beat. He could be an X-factor throughout the playoffs.

Like the Pacers, the Hawks have a very talented group of big men. Josh Smith leads the team in scoring at 17.5 points a game, although he's earned a reputation for jacking up poor shots when things get rough. Al Horford averages a double-double with slightly more than 17 and 10. Look for him and Hibbert to really get after each other in the paint.

Atlanta has plenty of shooters on its roster, too. Kyle Korver can be deadly from behind the arc, and DeShawn Stevenson has been a solid option all year long as both a starter and reserve. Rookie guard John Jenkins can also get hot from deep and change a game with his ability to spread the floor.

What this series will likely come down to is whether or not Atlanta can find good shots against Indiana's stout defense. The Pacers do a terrific job of making their opponents work for everything on the offensive end.

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