5 Reasons Why Indiana Pacers Will Win the 2013-14 NBA Title

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5 Reasons Why Indiana Pacers Will Win the 2013-14 NBA Title

5 Reasons Why Indiana Pacers Will Win the 2013-2014
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The 2012-13 NBA season was one that ended in enthusiasm and heartbreak for the Indiana Pacers. For a franchise that had struggled to relive the glory days of Reggie Miller-led teams in the early part of the last decade or the promising ones led by Ron Artest and Jermaine O'Neal that punched their way out of title contention, last year was a monumental success. Although the goal of a championship was not reached last season, there were more than enough bright spots that transpired throughout the course of the season to give Pacer fans hope that brighter days are ahead.

With the daunting task of not only usurping LeBron James and the Miami Heat after falling short in two consecutive years, but also facing the relative strength of the Eastern Conference this upcoming season, the Pacers will have their work cut out for them. Fortunately, as a team who holds within its personality a willingness to fight, claw and scratch for anything and everything that not only they accomplish, but what their opponents put forth, the Pacers are ready for the battle.

The 2013-14 version of the Pacers is one that many fans are hoping will finally lead to a changing of the guard in the Eastern Conference. With the development and growth of their young stars, key free agent acquisitions to address areas of futility along with one of the better defensive minds in the NBA in Frank Vogel, the Pacers are more than up to the task. Here are five reasons to get excited about the title prospects of the Pacers for this upcoming season.

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5. Defense

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Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

No matter how much talent the team brings in to assist in the scoring department, the identity of the Indiana Pacers will always center on their defense. With a tenacious group of defenders in George Hill, Paul George, Roy Hibbert, David West among others, the Pacers are the kind of team that leaves you bruised and battered after a single regular-season game, let alone over the course of a seven-game playoff series.

Possessing size across every position on the court and operating in a system that has frustrated opponents for two years running with this group of personnel, the Pacers are a big, physical and intimidating task for any opposing offense to go up against.

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4. Roy Hibbert

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Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Speaking of defense, the emergence of Roy Hibbert as an elite rim protector in the NBA is one of the key reasons that not only led to their success last season, but one that will lead to success in the future.

At 7-foot-2, 290 pounds, Hibbert is the kind of throwback center that most of the league has drifted away from in favor of a smaller, quicker and more athletic player at the position. That said, if Hibbert continues to achieve the kind of success he's seen come his way over the past few seasons, executives around the league will definitely rethink their strategy going forward at that crucial position on the floor.

With another summer of training sessions alongside Tim Duncan under his belt, expect any success that the Pacers achieve to come in large part due to a big contribution from the blossoming star.

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3. Return of Danny Granger

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Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Last season, one of the fatal flaws of the Indiana Pacers was their consistent inability to find scoring on the floor, especially with the likes of David West, George Hill, Roy Hibbert and Paul George residing on the bench.

In the return of Danny Granger, the Pacers re-introduce a player into their rotation that has career averages of 18.1 points, 5.2 rebounds while shooting 38.4 percent from behind the arc. Not only will the return of Granger serve as another source of offensive production and floor spacing, but he adds his 6-foot-9 height to the already intimidating bodies that the Pacers can throw onto the court.

For any concerns about offensive production that surrounded the Pacers, most of those questions will be answered with the return of the talented 30-year-old small forward.

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2. Improved Bench

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Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Bench production was something that just might have cost the Indiana Pacers an appearance to the NBA Finals last season. With the acquisition of talented low-post scorer Luis Scola alongside the perimeter presence of Chris Copeland and C.J. Watson, the Pacers aim to make that weakness a non-factor this season.

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1. Emergence of Paul George

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Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

To say that Paul George made the proverbial leap into a star last season would be an understatement. Last season, the 23-year old showed the basketball world that there are going to be some changes among the top player rankings in the near future, with his name ready to kick someone to the dirt.

Physically, he remains one of the few players that can actually match up against the likes of James, Kevin Durant and the other elite small forwards of the NBA on single coverage. Furthermore, he possesses the kind of athleticism and natural instinct that hints of a future with All-NBA First Team written all over it.

On offense, George combines a consistent perimeter jump shot with a devastating slashing ability that still has Chris Andersen wondering what hit him in May. With another season of improvement, we should see the emergence of George as a superstar and with that, the Pacers will be squarely lifted into the elite in the NBA.

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