Indiana Pacers Have Put Themselves In Position to Once Again Compete in Eastern Conference

By Cody Williams
Paul George Pacers Future
Pat Lovell – USA Today Sports Images

The Indiana Pacers had the now back-to-back NBA Champion Miami Heat on the ropes in the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs. Obviously they ended up not being able to throw the knockout punch to LeBron James and company, but they were definitely in the mix.

The Pacers derived the majority of their success in last season from being an elite defensive team. Whether it was Paul George on the perimeter or Roy Hibbert in the post, the Pacers have one of the soundest defensive squads in the entire league and they yielded the types of results on that end of the floor that you would expect.

However, Indiana had a tendency to struggle to put points on the board, particularly when they brought in their second-units. Coming into the season, they were banking on Gerald Green being a big addition and contributor for them off of the bench, but that gamble never really gave them any fruitful results.

It seems that the Pacers were well aware of their issues, though, because they addressed them quite well in free agency. Indiana was able to land both Chris Copeland and C.J. Watson on the free-agent market and they were able to sign both to very reasonable deals, especially considering their value to this team.

Last season with the New York Knicks, Copeland played 15.4 minutes per game and put up 8.7 points and 2.1 rebounds per game while shooting a solid 47.9 percent from the field and 42.1 percent from beyond-the-arc. Meanwhile with the Brooklyn Nets last year, Watson played 19 minutes per game and averaged 6.8 points and two assists per game while shooting 41.8 percent from the field and, more importantly, 41.1 percent from three.

Copeland will give the Pacers a versatile scorer off of the bench, a guy who can attack and knock down outside jumpers, and Watson will give them a sharpshooter to bring off of the bench as well. If both players produce as reserves at the level that they are capable of, the Pacers will have a chance to be in the Eastern Conference Finals once again. Only this time, they may have the ability to deliver the final haymaker.

Cody Williams is a Senior Writer with Rant Sports. Follow Cody on Twitter @TheSizzle20, add him on Google+ and like his Facebook page.

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