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Playing out the Play-In Games and Discussing their Impact

Pacers Podcast

Cleveland Cavaliers v Atlanta Hawks Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

Though the Pacers, yet again, won’t be participating in the playoffs for a second-consecutive season, they still have a vested interest by proxy of draft implications.

On February 6, when Caris LeVert was traded to the Cavaliers in exchange for Ricky Rubio’s expiring contract, a lottery-protected 2022 first-round pick, and a 2022 second-round pick via Houston, Cleveland had the fourth-best record in the Eastern Conference. Since then, while forced to weather injuries to LeVert (sprained right foot), Dean Wade (torn meniscus), Jarrett Allen (fractured finger), and Evan Mobley (ankle sprain), they’ve gone 11-16, posting a win-loss record equal to or better than only Detroit (11-16), Washington (11-16), Orlando (9-17), and Indiana (6-20) in the East, while limping — quite literally — into the play-in tournament. As it stands now, the Cavs will enter the tournament as the seventh seed, but they could still slip into the lottery if they lose to whichever team finishes in eighth as well as to the winner of the 9-10 game. In that event, the pick they owe the Pacers, which is also protected 1-14 next season, won’t convey for the upcoming draft.

From Cleveland’s perspective, though they clearly aren’t playing their best basketball of the season at the moment, parting with a mid-tier selection in this year’s draft might actually be the more preferable outcome, as there is still value to be gained in playoff experience as well as retaining flexibility to move future picks, which will be more difficult if the protections roll into next year. As for the Pacers, whether it is better to gain the pick now or later largely hinges on how the two draft classes compare in that range, but if the Cavs miss the playoffs again next season, Cleveland will instead convey their 2025 second-round pick as well as a 2026 second-round pick via the Lakers.

Needless to say, there is ample rooting interest on both sides for the Cavs to make the playoffs, which is why the latest episode of the Indy Cornrows podcast isn’t about the Pacers but rather how the play-in tournament impacts the Pacers.


  • Overview of the how the play-in tournament works
  • Cleveland’s projected starting lineup and playoff rotation
  • Preferred opponents between Brooklyn, Atlanta, and Charlotte (probably in that order)
  • Ongoing seeding chaos with the Nets controlling their own destiny
  • Previewing a potential match-up with the Hawks
  • Can Trae Young punish Cleveland more than Cleveland can punish him?
  • More

Enjoy the pod and look forward to the last two games of the season for the Pacers. Also, if you haven’t already, please be sure to Rate and Review the Indy Cornrows Podcast on Apple Podcasts and subscribe anywhere else you can listen!