When the 2013-14 NBA season started, the Indiana Pacers took the league by storm after reeling off nine straight wins. However, as the season is winding down, the Pacers are self-destructing and don’t appear ready for the postseason.
Indiana has lost their last eight out of eleven games, and have fallen to the second seed in the Eastern Conference. Their team chemistry as well as their team morale seem to be at an all time low this season. The future of head coach Frank Vogel also remains in question beyond this year. With that said, it’s time to look past the Pacers as contenders in the East and look elsewhere.
The Miami Heat are now the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, and with LeBron James playing like the league’s Most Valuable Player, Miami appears poised to be hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy for a third consecutive season. If the Heat can get Dwayne Wade healthy for the playoffs, it would be realistic to think that they will represent the east in the finals.
Another team that could be contending in the Eastern Conference is the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls are playing outstandingly well since the Jan. 7 trade of Luol Deng. The team has gone 31-14 since moving the small forward to the Cleveland Cavaliers, and developed solid team chemistry around their emotional leader Joakim Noah. They could be a very dangerous team in a seven-game series with their ability to play rugged hard-nosed defense.
With the Pacers steadily losing ground right before the playoffs, the Heat and the Bulls appear to benefit the most from their demise. And with the Brooklyn Nets also playing relatively well down the stretch, the Eastern Conference is more wide open than ever before.