Skip to content

ProBasketballTalk 2013-14 Preview: Indiana Pacers

Sep 25, 2013, 8:45 AM EDT

Miami Heat v Indiana Pacers - Game Six Getty Images

Last season: The Pacers continued their upward trajectory – missing the playoffs in 2009-10, reaching the first round in 2010-11, reaching the second round in 2011-12 and reaching the conference finals in 2012-13. With George Hill, Lance Stephenson, Paul George, David West and Roy Hibbert, Indiana had statistically the best lineup in the NBA. The Pacers played great defense and good-enough offense, and that got them to a Game 7 against the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. For now, that qualifies as a highly successful season.

Signature highlights from last season:  Forcing a seven-game series with Miami had nothing to do with the Heat overlooking the Pacers. Indiana was just that good and that fearless.

Key player changes: The Pacers’ offseason was all about upgrading their bench. They traded for Luis Scola and signed Chris Copeland and C.J. Watson.

Tyler Hansbrough and D.J. Augustin signed with Toronto, and Gerald Green and Miles Plumlee were traded to get Scola. But if the new bench performs as well as hoped, those players will be just afterthoughts.

Keys to the Pacers’ season:

1) Was last season’s playoff run a fluke? Without doubt, the Pacers deserved to reach Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Indiana played better than its first two postseason opponents, the Hawks and Knicks, and nearly as well as the Heat. But most teams that make it that far have already proven their abilities through sustained excellence during the long regular season.

Indiana had a good regular season, going 49-32, but that still falls well short of the average conference finalist, and perhaps, that indicates the Pacers were playing at their peak form during the playoffs rather than demonstrating a new baseline.

For what it’s worth, none of the last three teams to reach the conference finals without winning 50 games (adjusted for shortened seasons) – the 2012Celtics,2003Nets,2002Celtics – returned to the conference finals the following year.

2) Is David West too old? West is one of the NBA’s most underrated players. Tough and smart, West has been a huge asset to the Pacers both on the court and in the locker room. But he’s 33, an age when many players decline significantly or have already. West’s backup, Luis Scola, is even older. If West takes a step back, that could be a major setback for the Pacers. Nearly as much as their recent All-Stars, Paul George and Roy Hibbert, West is crucial to the Pacers’ success.

3) How well will Paul George and Danny Granger play together? They say they’ll be fine, and they very well could be. But this is really tough to project, because George is like a superhero who just discovered his powers. Until George learns how to stop clumsily shooting spider webs all over the place and when not to show up the local jocks by outrunning their car, there’s little use trying to gel with Granger. Once George stops evolving at a rapid pace, then maybe he can find chemistry with Granger.

For the Pacers, their wish here is a balancing act. They want George to get a lot better  (and he’s already at a high level), even if that means George’s game continuously takes different shapes, but they still want him and Granger to have time to mesh.

Why you should watch the Pacers: This is a team with legitimate title aspirations. The Pacers’ defense is already at a championship level, but their offense must catch up. It seems they have enough pieces to build a better offense, but it’s just a matter of figuring out how the puzzle fits together. Frank Vogel is a good coach, and his tinkering will be intriguing.

Prediction: 54-28. Until they indicate otherwise, the Heat belong atop any Eastern Conference projections. After that, take your pick between the Pacers, Nets and Bulls. The growth of Paul George and the reliability of David West and the bench will determine whether Indiana returns to the conference finals or falls short in a tougher Eastern Conference.

Latest Posts
  1. Record 45 current NBA players to compete in FIBA World Cup

    Aug 29, 2014, 11:15 PM EDT

    Pau Gasol and Marc Gasol (R) watch as th Getty Images

    Tournament features a record 75 players who have played in the NBA at some point, and we have the complete list.

  2. Chris Paul discusses his signature shoe, hoops with media at launch of his Jordan Brand CP3 VIII (VIDEO)

    Aug 29, 2014, 9:45 PM EDT

    101_Chris Paul Unveils Jordan CP3.VIII

    Chris Paul is way more into sneakers than you are, and articulated it well at the launch of his latest signature shoe in New York earlier this week.

  3. Report: Spurs interested in Mexico’s Gustavo Ayon

    Aug 29, 2014, 8:15 PM EDT

    ayon bucks Getty Images

    Ayon has played for four teams in three NBA seasons, and currently only has offers to play overseas next year.

  4. Iman Shumpert scares people (video)

    Aug 29, 2014, 4:15 PM EDT

    Iman Shumpert, Trevor Ariza Iman Shumpert, Trevor Ariza

    Knicks wing acts as security guard in prank

  5. 67RIEFNS No. 1: Tom Thibodeau managing his bigs

    Aug 29, 2014, 3:33 PM EDT

    Chicago Bulls v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

    Bulls have Joakim Noah, Pau Gasol, Taj Gibson and Nikola Mirotic

  6. Jerry Colangelo: Team USA ‘by far’ better than 2010 squad that won gold

    Aug 29, 2014, 2:47 PM EDT

    Team USA Showcase Getty Images

    Colangelo touts Anthony Davis, James Harden, Stephen Curry, Derrick Rose, Rudy Gay

  7. Clippers will stretch Miroslav Raduljica, too

    Aug 29, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    Miroslav Raduljica, Omri Casspi, Donatas Motiejunas Miroslav Raduljica, Omri Casspi, Donatas Motiejunas

    By also stretching Carlos Delfino, Clippers can sign four veterans to minimum contracts

  8. Derrick Rose knows injury questions will keep coming. And coming. And coming.

    Aug 29, 2014, 1:15 PM EDT

    Derrick Rose, Anderson Varejao, Raulzinho Neto Derrick Rose, Anderson Varejao, Raulzinho Neto

    The truth is limited games in an unusual setting don’t provide real answers to how Rose is feeling or will do down the line. What you think this says about Rose really says more about what you think of Rose’s future than anything else.

  9. FIBA World Cup preview: USA, Spain, then who else can medal?

    Aug 29, 2014, 11:40 AM EDT

    Pau Gasol, Kevin Love Pau Gasol, Kevin Love

    It should be USA/Spain for the gold, everyone else is playing for third.

  10. Pelicans’ coach sees Anthony Davis making big leap with Team USA

    Aug 29, 2014, 10:24 AM EDT

    Anthony Davis Anthony Davis

    Anthony Davis should lead the Pelicans to the playoffs, which would make Monty Williams feel safer.

  11. Manny Pacquiao wants to sign Metta World Peace to his Filipino team

    Aug 29, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT

    Eight-time world boxing champion Manny P Eight-time world boxing champion Manny P

    World Peace/Pandas Friend has already reached terms to play in China. Bidding war?

  12. Jeff Green donates $1 million to Georgetown athletic department

    Aug 29, 2014, 9:24 AM EDT

    NCAA East Regional Final - Georgetown v UNC Getty Images

    Celtics forward contributes money toward construction of building named for John Thompson Jr.

  13. Ty Lawson says not to sleep on Denver Nuggets

    Aug 29, 2014, 8:44 AM EDT

    Denver Nuggets Lawson celebrates a three-point shot against Golden State Warriors in their NBA Western Conference quarter-final basketball playoff in Denver Reuters

    If the Nuggets stay healthy, they are again a playoff threat in the West.

  14. Cavaliers GM admits concerns about rim protection on defense

    Aug 29, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Kevin Love, David Griffin Kevin Love, David Griffin

    Protecting the paint is the obvious Achilles heel of the Cavaliers, on paper anyway.

  15. Kings rookie Nik Stauskus shares summer NBA experiences (VIDEO)

    Aug 29, 2014, 12:01 AM EDT

    Stauskas is thrilled to have finally made it to the NBA.

  16. Miami Heat top 10 plays of 2014 season (VIDEO)

    Aug 28, 2014, 10:29 PM EDT

    Chris Bosh Chris Bosh

    Wade and Bosh show they can get the job done now that LeBron has moved on.

Featured video

Will LeBron get booed Christmas Day in Miami?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Love (3148)
  2. D. Rose (2844)
  3. K. Bryant (2453)
  4. L. James (2401)
  5. K. Irving (2037)
  1. R. Allen (1911)
  2. C. Delfino (1879)
  3. T. Mozgov (1773)
  4. D. Waiters (1750)
  5. A. Davis (1692)