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NBA Indiana Pacers

Indiana Pacers 2014 Playoff Wish List

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Indiana Pacers 2014 Playoff Wish List

Indiana Pacers' Huddle
Rocky Widner - Getty Images

The Indiana Pacers' entire season thus far has revolved around earning the top seed and home court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs. They've proven they can meet their long-term goals, and now they're going into the playoffs with a clean slate.

Here are 10 small, short-term goals to help them regain and keep their momentum as they take on the underachieving Eastern Conference.

10. Limit Turnovers

LeBron James Intercepts Pass Against Pacers
Chris Trotman - Getty Images

10. Limit Turnovers

LeBron James Intercepts Pass Against Pacers
Chris Trotman - Getty Images

Larry Bird warned the team about sloppy ball handing back in January, long before the slump started. This is not a new issue. Since the Pacers are not exactly a premier scoring team, crisp ball movement will be essential to their playoff success.

9. Bench Will Remain A Sparkplug

C.J. Watson Indiana Pacers
Gary Dineen - Getty Images

9. Bench Will Remain A Sparkplug

C.J. Watson Indiana Pacers
Gary Dineen - Getty Images

The much maligned Pacers' bench can no longer be considered a weakness. C.J. Watson, Ian Mahinmi, Evan Turner and company have brought a much needed jolt of energy to the team in the past couple of weeks, both in their win against the Milwaukee Bucks and against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Now that they’ve proven they can contribute, they can’t let up.

8. Scoring From Roy Hibbert

Roy Hibbert Dunk Indiana Pacers
Joe Murphy - Getty Images

8. Scoring From Roy Hibbert

Roy Hibbert Dunk Indiana Pacers
Joe Murphy - Getty Images

Roy Hibbert has taken a few nasty shots to the head lately. After an elbow to the jaw during a win against Miami, the trainer asked Hibbert if he knew where he was. His answer? “Yeah, I’m in trouble.” During the slump, Hibberts' scoring has been almost non-existent, but he might have been a bit injured. With the extra rest he's been getting, his scoring muscle memory will hopefully return soon.

7. More Confidence, Especially From George Hill

George Hill Indiana Pacers
Gary Dineen - Getty Images

7. More Confidence, Especially From George Hill

George Hill Indiana Pacers
Gary Dineen - Getty Images

George Hill grew up in Indianapolis, and now has a special opportunity to make a championship run with his hometown team. Lately, he’s seemed tentative and frustrated, even by slump standards. If he can get into a rhythm, it will help sync the entire team.

6. Continued Fan Support

Indiana Pacers Fans
Brian Spurlock - USA TODAY SPORTS

6. Continued Fan Support

Indiana Pacers Fans
Brian Spurlock - USA TODAY SPORTS

It’s playoff season for the fans too, and Indianapolis needs to rise to the occasion, especially now that they're bidding for an NBA All-Star Game. Pacers fans have come back with a vengeance the past couple of years, but if the Chicago Bulls come to the Circle City, there better not be blocks of red in the stands.

5. Remember It's Lance Stephenson's Contract Year

Lance Stephenson Indiana Pacers
Rocky Widner - Getty Images

5. Remember It's Lance Stephenson's Contract Year

Lance Stephenson Indiana Pacers
Rocky Widner - Getty Images

It’s been said that if Lance Stephenson had gone anywhere but Indiana, he might not be in the league right now. Fans want Stephenson to stay, but more than that, they want him to want to stay. He’ll need to keep a healthy balance of energy and level-headedness during the playoffs to meet his full potential and cement his return next season.

4. Return To Roots: Defense, Defense, Defense

Roy Hibbert Blocks LeBron James
Nathaniel S. Butler - Getty Images

4. Return To Roots: Defense, Defense, Defense

Roy Hibbert Blocks LeBron James
Nathaniel S. Butler - Getty Images

Even in the midst of their slump, the Pacers have been one of the best defensive teams in the league. If they start to slide again, they’ll need to focus on their strengths, and hope defense really does win championships.

3. Play With Energy and Have Fun

Indiana Pacers Paul George Dunk
Brian Spurlock - USA TODAY SPORTS

3. Play With Energy and Have Fun

Indiana Pacers Paul George Dunk
Brian Spurlock - USA TODAY SPORTS

The personnel moves earlier this season (and the mess that followed) might have indicated that the entire organization has been over thinking things. This team is at their best when they’re having a little fun, like Stephenson's trick shot during warm-ups before they played the Thunder, or Paul George’s 360 dunk. Stop thinking so much, be fun, and the rest will follow.

2. Act Like They've Been There Before

Indiana Pacers vs Miami Heat 2013 Playoffs
Robert Mayer - USA TODAY SPORTS

2. Act Like They've Been There Before

Indiana Pacers vs Miami Heat 2013 Playoffs
Robert Mayer - USA TODAY SPORTS

The Pacers can hardly claim youth and inexperience. If they meet Miami in the playoffs this season, it will be the third year in a row, and last year they played the full seven-game series. They know what to expect, both of the opposition and of themselves. They need to realize that they belong in a championship game, and not get overwhelmed by the moment.

1. Redefine Core Goal

Indiana Pacers 2014 Starters
Rocky Widner - Getty Images

1. Redefine Core Goal

Indiana Pacers 2014 Starters
Rocky Widner - Getty Images

From the beginning of the season, the Pacers stated their primary goal was to earn the top seed in the Eastern Conference. They kind of backed into it, but they got it; now, they need to decide what they’re going to do with it. They've proven they can set a goal and meet it. If they decide their ultimate goal is to win the 2014 NBA Championship, they need to mean it.