Indiana Pacers won the Eastern Conference top seed for the playoffs in a huge achievement for the franchise which was supposed to be crucial to their hopes to make it to the NBA Finals, but right now they are in a desperate situation.

Not many people could have predicted the second half of the season that the Pacers have had. Back in January they were riding high with the best record in the whole of the NBA.

However, they ended the regular season with the fourth best record, and they came into the post-season on the back of six defeats from their last ten games.

The lack of quality in the East has meant that since around Christmas the Pacers have practically been guaranteed a top two berth.

With that knowledge they have dropped off so much that the Chicago Bulls have the best record in the East in 2014.

Now, the Miami Heat have had a similar drop off, but it's with the Pacers that the most fear of an early playoff exit could become a reality.

Those fears were put into practice on Sunday night when Indiana lost at home 101-93 in Game one against the Atlanta Hawks of all teams.

The Hawks lost more games during the regular season than they won, so brushing past them should be easy for a Pacers team that still harbours some hopes of an NBA title push.

After all, the Eastern Conference is theirs for the taking still, with home-court advantage up until the NBA Finals.

They would even have that all important potential Game seven of the Eastern Conference Finals against Miami Heat at home as well.

But it seems they are going to struggle to even get off the ground, with the plucky Hawks causing plenty of problems Sunday.

Contrary to some views about what the Pacers need right now, maybe a tight and ugly series against the Hawks is exactly what Indiana needs right now.

Maybe just maybe they need to go down to the wire against Atlanta and find that spark from within themselves when they look down and out.

The Pacers are still huge favorites to go through in the first round, but a tough series in which they win it in six or seven games is the best thing to wake up their group.

It's in those most desperate moments that you find out who your team-mates are and who you know you can rely when the chips are down.

Right now the Pacers need inspiration to fight on after a tiring season. And a close fought series win against Atlanta is the best way for them to get that all important second wind.

Topics:
#Indiana Pacers
#NBA Playoffs
#NBA