The Indiana Pacers proved that they were for real in the 2013 NBA Playoffs. While matched up against the emerging dynasty known as the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Pacers threw everything they had at the Heat, haymaker after haymaker, but ultimately couldn’t put Miami down for the count.
However, this season the Pacers are looking for better results. They aren’t looking to just give the Heat a fight. According to Larry Bird, who rejoined the Pacers front office in June, in an interview with the Indianapolis Star, the Pacers are “all in.” Bird later added in the interview that not getting to the NBA Finals, or at least the conference finals again, this season, “would be a disappointment” for this Indiana team.
Obviously that means there is a bit of pressure facing this Pacers team, but it also seems like pressure that they deserve and can live up to it. After all of the success that they had last season, their young players have continued to grow and they also have some newcomers who will be extremely helpful to their plight.
Newly extended guard/forward Paul George has another summer of work under his belt as he tries to cement himself as a star this season. However, he’s also flanked by guys like Roy Hibbert, Lance Stephenson and George Hill, who also had another year to develop further. More than that, they were able to re-sign David West, trade for Luis Scola without giving up anything of real value, and sign Chris Copeland and C.J. Watson. All of those things don’t even take into consideration Danny Granger’s return from injury.
Looking at what they did last season and then considering how much better this team got in the off-season, Bird’s expectations aren’t unrealistic. It won’t be an easy road, especially since their road ultimately leads to LeBron James and the Heat, but they seem to have retooled enough to where they can potentially get over the hurdle this season.
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