Skip to content

Paul George: Cavaliers are Eastern Conference favorites

Aug 1, 2014, 11:20 AM EDT

Indiana Pacers v Miami Heat - Game 3 Getty Images

The Heat have won the last four Eastern Conference titles, making them the first team with four consecutive conference crowns since the Celtics (1984-87).

But with LeBron James headed back to Cleveland, the Heat are no longer Finals favorites.

Who in the East is?

How about last year’s No. 1 seed and conference finalist? Couldn’t the Pacers just slide up one slot to frontrunner status?

Indiana star forward Paul George, via Brian Windhorst of ESPN:

“With Lance being gone and everyone thinking this is going to be a rebuilding year for us,” Paul George said during Team USA training camp this week, “immediately when LeBron went to Cleveland, that made them the front-runners.”

But the Pacers, with a strong core led by George still in place, are certainly not rebuilding, right?

“People do look at it that way,” George insisted, perhaps even trying to sell it. “I’ve got a lot of pressure and I’m coming into this year and I’m ready to live up to that pressure.”

George isn’t wrong. I’d take LeBron’s Cavaliers – and the Bulls with a healthy Derrick Rose and Pau Gasol coming on board – over Indiana. The Heat, Raptors, Wizards and Hornets – who stole Lance Stephenson, one of the Pacers’ top players – might belong higher in the pecking order, too. Without Stephenson, Indiana is not the same team.

But I don’t think George is interested in an accurate assessment.

The Pacers started 33-7 last season, overtaking Miami as conference favorites in the process. Then, under the weight of expectations, Indiana collapsed. The Pacers, plagued by in-fighting and finger-pointing, clearly weren’t ready for the spotlight.

George, correctly, believes Indiana performs better when viewed as the underdog. So, he’ll say what he can to help the team achieve that status.

Thankfully for him, LeBron remaining in the East all but guaranteed he won’t have to stretch too hard. Unless LeBron signed with Indiana, Milwaukee or Philadelphia, Indiana had minimal shot of being viewed as Eastern Conference favorites.

Latest Posts
  1. It’s official: J.R. Smith re-signs with Cavaliers

    Sep 2, 2015, 10:30 PM EDT

    J.R. Smith J.R. Smith

    He’s making $1.5 million less than if he opted in this season, but he does have another year.

  2. Brad Stevens hints he will explore taller, more traditional lineups

    Sep 2, 2015, 9:30 PM EDT

    Brad Stevens AP

    With the additions to the Celtics’ roster, this is the smart play.

  3. Report: Free agent Glen Davis to have ankle surgery, out 2-3 months

    Sep 2, 2015, 8:31 PM EDT

    Glen Davis Glen Davis

    He could be back on the court around Thanksgiving, if a team picks him up.

  4. Dwight Howard tried to take loaded gun through airport security, will not face charges

    Sep 2, 2015, 6:31 PM EDT

    Houston Rockets v Golden State Warriors - Game Five Getty Images

    Don’t bring a loaded Glock to an airport, people. It’s pretty much common sense.

  5. Celtics’ Isaiah Thomas: “I wanna be the best little guy to ever play the game of basketball”

    Sep 2, 2015, 4:59 PM EDT

    Boston Celtics v Cleveland Cavaliers- Game Two Getty Images

    Best ever little guy? Calvin Murphy is in the HOF, so he’s the man.

  6. Report: Clippers planning a mascot

    Sep 2, 2015, 4:13 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Clippers v Utah Jazz Getty Images

    It won’t be called Seagull Kneivel

  7. D-League Showcase will use net rating as tiebreaker

    Sep 2, 2015, 3:14 PM EDT

    2015 NBA D League Showcase Getty Images

    Advanced stats aren’t always the answer

  8. Shaq with the coolest fist bump ever (video)

    Sep 2, 2015, 2:17 PM EDT

    2015 NBA Finals - Game One Getty Images

    If only I could get people to run up to fist bump me while I walk…

  9. Report: 76ers interested in Kendall Marshall

    Sep 2, 2015, 12:23 PM EDT

    Philadelphia 76ers v Milwaukee Bucks Getty Images

    Point guard reportedly working out in Philadelphia

  10. Ty Lawson on coming to Houston: “It’s definitely a breath of fresh air”

    Sep 2, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    Sacramento Kings v Denver Nuggets Getty Images

    For Lawson personally I hope this move and this situation is what he needs to get his life in order.

  11. Report: Pistons signing Eric Griffin

    Sep 1, 2015, 11:07 PM EDT

    Indiana Pacers v Dallas Mavericks Getty Images

    Griffin will give Pistons 19 players, 17 with guaranteed salaries

Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Rose (2331)
  2. K. Irving (2054)
  3. A. Davis (1816)
  4. K. Bryant (1432)
  5. L. James (1417)
  1. A. Aminu (1321)
  2. K. Durant (1290)
  3. M. Leonard (1285)
  4. T. Thompson (1195)
  5. E. Mudiay (1157)