With the 2012 NBA Finals on the near horizon, every other team in the league has had the time to recover and recap from their losses, in preparation to rebound for another attempt at glory next season. The Indiana Pacers had their best season in nearly a decade, but still have much room for improvement.
The Pacers reached the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals for the first time since 2005, but fell short in the semis, losing their series to the Eastern Conference Champion Miami Heat, four games to two. Even though the Pacers still found themselves fighting the ghosts of the 2004 “Malice in the Palace” in Detroit all of this season, the players, the coaches, the president, and the franchise as a whole, stepped up this season to make the Indiana Pacers relevant in the NBA Championship chase for the first time in a long time.
Indiana’s 42-24 record this season was good enough to get them the third seed in the Eastern Conference, and the fifth-best record in the NBA. Even in a lockout-shortened season of 66 games, the Pacers had their best record since 2004. Head coach Frank Vogel (In his first full season as a head coach) finished third in the voting for Coach of the Year. Team President Larry Bird was named 2011-2012 Executive of the Year, for rebuilding this team from the bottom up in classic (and classy) fashion.
Yes, the Pacers have holes to fill. They also have money to spend in the off-season, if they so choose. Indiana has the potential to be one of the best teams in the league, but the competition is thick, and the clock is ticking for this team to take that next step to the NBA Finals.