Indiana Pacers Season Preview: High Expectations

Team Capsule

Last year the Pacers reached the 2nd round of the Eastern Conference playoffs thanks largely to Roy Hibbert. They were able to frustrate the Heat in a lot of successful ways and it’s no surprise the team and some of the fans have high expectations for them this year.

They did something I love in hiring Donnie Walsh. They know that the east is significantly weaker with Dwight gone, the Celtics another year older, and the Bulls pretty much already having a lost season. Their biggest threats are the Heat, Nets, Sixers, Knicks and Celtics. The Heat are obviously a threat as the defending champions and you can’t just ignore a team that has Lebron James on it.

Will this Pacers team be able to get past the wall that is the Miami Heat? Unlikely. Can this team reach the Eastern Conference Finals? Definitely.

Biggest Strength: A weak Conference

The Pacers biggest threats are the Heat, Nets, Sixers, Knicks and Celtics. The Heat are obviously a threat as the defending champions and you can’t just ignore a team that has Lebron James on it. The Nets and Sixers both made huge trades this offseason that improved their teams but new teams don’t always mesh together perfectly the first season. The Knicks have the reigning Defensive Player of the Year in Tyson Chandler, Carmelo Anthony who can score at will, and the young Iman Shumpert who established himself as one of the great perimeter defenders in the league last year. However the Knicks are the oldest team in the league. The Celtics are a threat for only 3 reasons, Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo, and Doc Rivers. A Doc rivers coached team should never be underestimated especially one that has a top 4 PG in Rondo and a player who’s absolutely insane in KG despite being as old as dirt.

The Pacers aren’t bad. They’re a very good team. But if you put them in the West they’re unlikely to be a top 4 seed while out in the east anything less than one of the top 3 seeds would be ridiculous for this team.

Biggest Weakness: Inconsistency

Besides Roy Hibbert and Danny Granger there isn’t a huge amount of consistency on this team. Nobody on the roster screams at you that they are a guy you need to worry about every night. Again it’s not that the players on the team are bad. It’s more of they aren’t very threatening.

Player to Watch: Danny Granger

There were talks last year that Danny Granger had already peaked and was fast approaching the downside of his career. When you look at the stats it’s hard to not see why people are saying this. Granger still had an average PER and Win Shares but his eFG%, FG%, and 3PtFG% were all the worst of his career despite an average usage. It’s possible that this had to do with the weird strike season last year. Granger is definitely the player to watch on the Pacers this year.

2011-2012 Record: 42-24

Coach: Frank Vogel

Key Additions: Miles Plumlee, Donnie Walsh

I love love LOVE! The Donnie Walsh hiring. That guy is going to put this team over the hump in a couple years.

Key Losses: Larry Bird, Leandro Barbosa

Team Trajectory: Rising and fast

I think despite all the new and old threats out east the Pacers get past them and lose in the playoffs to the Heat. The question is not if they lose to them but when based on their seeding. The Pacers are the only team besides the Heat, in the east, that is for the most part the same as last year and didn’t have any huge losses. However they also didn’t do much to improve besides their young guys having another year of experience. Unfortunately for the Pacers it’s another year of getting ousted by the Heat. This year might not be the year for the Pacers but Donnie Walsh is really good at making teams better and I see the Pacers as real title contenders in 2 years, just not this year.

Projected Record: 56-26

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About Chris Barnewall
Hi I'm Chris. I'm from the Space Coast of Florida where NASA is. I grew up watching shuttles launch into the sky and watching the Orlando Magic on my TV. I hope by giving you my opinions and analysis on basketball we can have some awesome discussions on the topics I write. If you want to see some of the other random things I enjoy and talk about then go give me a follow on Twitter. @ChrisJandB Lets have fun with this!

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