By Tyler Leli @jetleli on April 14, 2014
The 2013-14 NBA regular season is almost finished, and the Indiana Pacers are only one victory over the Orlando Magic from securing the top seed in the Eastern Conference. This top seed will surely have Indiana setting their sights on the NBA Finals, and many already view them as the top favorites. Here are the five reasons why the Pacers will reach their potential and win it all in 2014.
The Pacers rank second in the NBA in points allowed per game at 92.4, which has been made possible by the team's incredible length and their hardworking nature. This mix will surely play well during the playoffs, when an ability to play in a half-court set reigns supreme and games are won in the trenches. Expect Indiana to win most loose ball battles and thrive in the lower scoring playoff atmosphere.
The Indiana Pacers may rank 24th in the NBA in points per game, but they do possess five players that scored more than ten points per game in Paul George, Lance Stephenson, David West, Roy Hibbert and George Hill. These players provide a mix of interior prowess, mid-court shooting, ability to attack the rim and long range shooting that can dominate in the playoffs. The Pacers may not strive to outscore you, but they have the options to do so.
The Pacers are absolutely dominant in the paint, as Roy Hibbert, David West, Luis Scola and Lavoy Allen combine physical presence and hard work to best other teams. During the 2013-14 season, Indiana has allowed the fewest points in the paint of any team in the NBA and boast the third best rebound differential as a team. Expect the Pacers to best bigger and smaller teams because of their physical presence this spring.
Since Mar. 4, the Pacers have stumbled out to a 9-13 record, and many people have called the team fractured or broken along the way. What most of these people forget is that the Pacers are a team of professionals, and it is not uncommon for top teams to take their foot off the gas during the final weeks of the season. Look for the Pacers to forget about the regular season come playoff time and play like the best team in the East.
During the 2013 Eastern Conference Finals, the Pacers lost out in Game 7 in large part because the Miami Heat held momentum from home-court advantage, but this won't happen again in 2014. Being at the top of the Eastern Conference means that they will have home-court advantage until the NBA Finals and possibly during the NBA Finals. Expect Indiana to ride this small advantage to become 2014 NBA champions.
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