The Indiana Pacers are a franchise that has come close to making big waves in the NBA, only to fall short at the last moment. This year’s Indiana Pacers team is poised for a deep playoff run. Perhaps they will be the Pacers team that finally gets over the top.
In the 1998 Eastern Conference Finals, the Pacers took Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls to seven games before eventually being overwhelmed. It is strange to think how close history was to being completely different. In 2000, Indiana made it all the way to the NBA Finals, but lost to a very tough Los Angeles Lakers team four games to two. Last year, the Pacers found themselves in the Eastern Conference Finals again, but were knocked off in seven games by Lebron James and the Heat.
This year, however, things might be different. The Pacers have one of the better teams in the franchise’s recent memory, and are poised for a deep playoff run. The team is first place in the Eastern Conference with a record of 41-13. Miami, the East’s second-place team, comes in at 38-14. The Pacers have a real shot to catch Oklahoma City and obtain the league’s best record, but the crucial thing is to make sure they at least get home court advantage over the Heat. If they can accomplish this goal, then the Pacers have a great shot at getting to the NBA Finals.
There are several reasons why the Pacers have a great chance for a deep playoff push. For one thing, the Eastern Conference is relatively weak this year outside of its two powerhouses. Toronto, currently the East’s third-place team, has only 29 wins. Indeed, four of the Eastern Conference’s top eight teams have won less than 50 percent of their games.
More importantly than records, the Pacers have a very balanced team. There are currently five players on Indiana’s roster averaging double-digits in points per game. They also have one of the league’s best players in Paul George. George is averaging over 22 points per game and shooting nearly 38 percent from three-point range.
Lebron James, Kevin Durant, and Chris Paul are among the players who get the most attention in the NBA. However, George deserves to be on the list. With his size and defensive ability, he is vaguely reminiscent of Scottie Pippen. At the very least, George is able to match up reasonably well with the bigger perimeter because of his size.
The Pacers’ biggest advantage might be Roy Hibbert. Hibbert is currently third in blocks with 2.5 per game. On offense Hibbert’s size can be a mismatch if an opposing team decides to go small. While perhaps not on the same level as many of the great centers of old, Hibbert is probably one of the better big men in the league today.
It is tough to say how the recent trade for Evan Turner will affect Indiana. Turner has good size, and is averaging about 17 points per game. However, the Pacers had to give up veteran Danny Granger in order to obtain Turner. One advantage that turner does have over Granger is youth.
The Indiana Pacers have a very good chance at a deep playoff run this season; they are poised for success. This year’s squad is one that has the defense, depth, and talent to get the job done.
Editorial By Zach Kirkman