The Indiana Pacers grew as a unit in 2011-2012 as they advanced to the semifinals against the Miami Heat. Unfortunately for them, that was also the series where LeBron took over and that ended their postseason run. With that being said, the Pacers took a step, but will it be enough to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals this year?
Key Additions: Miles Plumlee, Gerald Green, D.J Augustin, Ian Mahinmi
Key Losses: Darren Collison, A.J. Price, Dahntay Jones
Projected Starting Lineup: Roy Hibbert (C), David West (PF), Danny Granger (SF), Paul George (SG), George Hill (PG)
George Hill needs to find himself and take that leap; when he was with San Antonio he was jack-of-all-trades type player doing a bit of this and a little bit of that. Indiana needs him to find his niche and perform it at a consistent manner. Hill is a great ballhandler and can get to the basket, but he needs to lead the offense in Indiana in some manner.
Paul George is entering his third year in the NBA, typically speaking, we often see third-year players start step into their prowess. George improved from 7.1 points per game his rookie year to 12.1 points last season, as well as, his three-point percentage increasing from 29.7% to 38.5%. He also improved on his passing and his rebounding improved to nearly two additional boards per game. George is a fantastic finisher at the rim, but if he can improve his mid-range game, you may see a blossoming athlete in Indiana.
The other end of the sword is if George offensively blossoms, that could mean one of the other starters loses touches. Indiana is traditionally a selfless team, but would egos come into play in this situation?
Expectations: Indiana may lack a superstar, but this team is the second best team in the Eastern Conference; not the Boston Celtics, but the Indiana Pacers.
Prediction: 57-25; second seed in the Eastern Conference.