Pacers prepare for first game of NBA playoffs

Indiana Pacers

(WISH) — The chowder, the marathon and the noise: The Indiana Pacers are ready for all of it, beginning Sunday afternoon in Boston, as yet another opening round series arrives with Indiana tabbed as a heavy underdog.

“Boston gets crazy. They have a great fan base just like we do, and we know it is going to be a hostile environment,” Pacers forward Thad Young said Friday after practice.

The trio of Kyrie Irving, Jason Tatum and Al Horford qualifies as legitimate playoff noise. Sure, maybe it is not what LeBron James and the Cavaliers brought on paper over the last two Pacers postseason series, but without Victor Oladipo, it is close.

“It is not LeBron (James) but it is still a good Eastern Confernce team,” said Pacers center Myles Turner. “We need to go out there, stay composed and try to will our team to victory.”

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Turner and his blocking skills are healthy ahead of Game 1 on Sunday. Meanwhile, Boston is dealing with the loss of its top defender, Marcus Smart, who shut down Bojan Bogdanovic on April 5 to the tune of 4 points.

“Now that (Marcus) Smart is not playing, this is still a deep team,” said Pacers head coach Nate McMillan. “They have guys that will be able to step in. I don’t think it really changes how they will attack us. We can’t assume that now things will be easier.”

At the heart of this series for some Pacers fans are two familiar faces now on the other side of the court: Brad Stevens and Gordon Hayward shouldn’t expect to see any “Hoosier hospitality” over the next couple weeks.

“I mean, good for them, but I don’t care,” Pacers guard Darren Collison said. “They are in front of us and we need to play our game regardless of what connection is what. We have to win.”

“He (Stevens) is a tremendous coach, a great basketball mind, and I think he has been doing a great job from the outside,” said Pacers guard Wesley Matthews. “But going into this series, I hope he does a horrible job. That is about all of the credit I am going to give them.”

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