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Pacers could fall hard and fast

Aug 4, 2014, 5:15 PM EDT

Lance Stephenson, Paul George Lance Stephenson, Paul George

The Indiana Pacers just a lot of stability at a time teams need it most.

When they’re good.

The fact got lost during a late-season collapse and near 1-8 playoffs upset, but the Pacers had a darn good year. They finished 56-26, the East’s best record, and reached their second straight conference Finals.

Most winning teams try to keep that good thing going.

By their own volition and bad fortune, the Pacers can’t – at least not as it was constructed last season. Their minutes leader, Paul George, is out for the season with a horrific leg injury. Lance Stephenson, No. 2 in minutes, signed with the Hornets.

No other team projects to go all season without its two minutes leaders from last year, though that could obviously change before the season begins.

From 2012-13 to 2013-14, four teams lost their two minutes leaders:

None of the four made the playoffs won a playoff game in 2012-13, making their willingness to turn over understandable.

But the Pacers are headed into this big change at the top after a strong season – and that hasn’t gone well historically.

Since the NBA-ABA merger, just three teams have reached the conference finals and then lost its two minutes leaders before the next season:

  • 2004 Los Angeles Lakers (Gary Payton and Shaquille O’Neal)
  • 1999 Chicago Bulls (Michael Jordan and Dennis Rodman)
  • 1980 Seattle SuperSonics (Gus Williams and Dennis Johnson)

None of the three even made the playoffs the following season

Earlier today, Kurt wrote a good article about the challenges the Pacers will face on the court this season. A significantly larger role for Roy Hibbert isn’t exactly inspiring, and it’s unclear how much of a burden David West and George Hill can carry at this point.

The present for a team like Indiana is troublesome.

So is the history.

  1. sportsfan18 - Aug 4, 2014 at 5:32 PM

    Exactly.

    Knicks fans should be happy though as now they have a sporting chance for the 8th seed… well at least better than DOA like it was before.

    Just switch out the Cavs for the Pacers and the other 7 teams from the playoffs in the East could go back.

    And still leave the Knicks on the outside looking in…

    Cavs
    Bulls
    Wizards
    Toronto
    Atlanta (get Al Horford back)
    Nets (if Brook Lopez is healthy)
    Miami
    Charlotte (getting better)

    So the Knicks might have one less to team to contend with now that the Pacers have lost George and Lance.

    • 00maltliquor - Aug 4, 2014 at 6:19 PM

      Lopez or no Lopez, Nets are gonna be buttcheeks. Really the Knicks have the best chance of getting the 8th unless Melo suffers a serious injury, but they’d be fighting off the Nets, Pistons (don’t write them off yet) and a surprise entry….the Bucks (so as long as they start the right starters and stay healthy and out of trouble). All those aforementioned teams blow chunks but hey, it’s the lEastern conference.

      Yo my man, you gotta have the Horncats ranked higher broski.

      • sportsfan18 - Aug 4, 2014 at 9:39 PM

        malt

        i made a mistake. i meant to say in no particular order. i wasn’t trying to rank the teams, just list who would make the playoffs.

        but since i left that out, i see where you and others think that.

        you’re right, there are several teams vying for the 8th spot now and the Knicks are one of them.

  2. joethesensasian - Aug 4, 2014 at 5:40 PM

    Good thing they’re in the Eastern Conference

  3. houston1193 - Aug 4, 2014 at 5:41 PM

    You say none of those teams made the playoffs in 2012-13, when the bucks, losing record and all, were the 8 seed in the east. I know it’s easy to forget since they got swept and were terrible this past season but yes they were in the playoffs that year.

  4. antistratfordian - Aug 4, 2014 at 5:42 PM

    Could? They already did. The hard and fast fall started before the regular season ended last year. So the trajectory appears to be the same. Maybe after the injury the arrow is angled a little more downwards, but it was pointing down before.

    As far as the future of Paul George – I think I might agree with Brian Hartline and say that George will come back and be at least as good as he was before.

  5. nfl4days - Aug 4, 2014 at 5:44 PM

    The Pacers *will fall hard and fast. Unless Kwame Hibbert plays like the second coming of Shaq, they’re gone be picking high in the lottery.

  6. chrisswitzer2189 - Aug 4, 2014 at 5:57 PM

    It’s a good thing. Pacers need to draft a star to go along with pg bc they don’t have the sex appeal and money to sign one

  7. xx1111 - Aug 4, 2014 at 7:06 PM

    Its still the EAST.. and a losing record gets you in the playoffs most years.

  8. redbaronx - Aug 4, 2014 at 7:08 PM

    I think the Pacers are lottery bound. Beyond losing their minutes leaders, they lost their #1 and #3 SCORING leaders. And that’s on a team that has trouble scoring!

    I’ll be surprised if they make the playoffs…

    My revised preseason predictions 1 through 8

    1. Bulls
    2. Wizards
    3. Cavaliers
    4. Hawks
    5. Hornets
    6. Heat
    7. Toronto
    8. Nets or Knicks

  9. 88heatnation - Aug 4, 2014 at 7:29 PM

    Lol. I remember that playoff moment on the picture above when Lance just laid down like a corpse and George came to tend to the foolishness like “Cum on.. just get up”.

  10. loungefly74 - Aug 5, 2014 at 8:14 AM

    …and just like that, the Pacers’ window closed.

    • bball242322 - Aug 5, 2014 at 2:27 PM

      I wouldn’t say closed, just delayed. PG will be back, he’s got a winner’s mentality. He knows he has the ability to be special and go down in history. He’ll work hard and be determined to come back better than ever. Once he’s back, the window will slowly but surely open back up

  11. mungman69 - Aug 14, 2014 at 5:43 AM

    Pacers have a loooong road back. They should (will?) tank this season and then start the slow rebuild.

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