Despite struggling in the latter part of the NBA regular season, Indiana Pacers finished at the top of the Eastern Conference. But, their sluggish form continued in the postseason, as they went down in the first game of the playoffs to the lower-ranked Atlanta Hawks.
Losing home court advantage put a huge dent to Pacers' title hopes, while Hawks, without the services of Al Horford - arguably their best player - made a strong start in the seven-game series.
Pacers are in a must-win situation so early in the series, and a win in Game 2 would put them right back in the series. The good thing for Pacers is, this is a seven-match series, and in the past they have registered four wins on the trot.
On the other hand, Hawks have a legitimate chance of causing an upset against a top-ranked side. They have already done that in the first game and if they get their acts together, it might happen again. Also, whenever these two sides have faced each other this season, Hawks looked a confident unit with Jeff Teague leading the charge.
However, Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer is not taking history into the account when number 8 teams, such as New York Knicks and Golden State Warriors, pulled off upsets in the playoffs.
"I don't think that there's a whole lot of value - I guess one happened a couple years ago; I was in it," Budenholzer said. "But it seemed like all of the other ones were a long, long time ago. It's a new team, new situation; everything's new and I don't think there's a whole lot to put into those."
Hawks guard Kyle Korver is confident that they can register another win against the Pacers. He said that they are a solid team and can defeat a top-ranked side twice within a few days.
"You go into every series trying to win," Hawks guard Kyle Korver said. "I don't think we view ourselves as an eight-seed. I think if we'd have been healthy all year we'd have been much higher. Had to deal with some injuries. When we're healthy and playing good basketball, we've got a really solid team."
Pacers' Roy Hibbert said that they are not taking Atlanta lightly as they feature a strong lineup. He added that the Hawks have defeated them in the past and it is going to be a tough task for them to square the series.
"They're a good team," Pacers center Roy Hibbert said. "They showed that they could beat us here in the regular season and beat us at their place. It's going to be an uphill battle for us, especially with their lineup."
Where to Watch Live
The game is scheduled for a 7:00 pm ET (4:30 am IST, 11:00 pm GMT) start with live coverage on TNT in the US and Sony Six and Sony Six HD in India. The game can be watched via live streaming online in the US HERE or HERE. The game can be live streamed by international viewers, including India, HERE.