By Ron Leyba
The Indiana Pacers finally got what they wanted this season, the top seed in the Eastern Conference. After suffering a devastating elimination in Game 7 of last year’s playoffs from LeBron James’s Miami Heat, the Pacers performed several moves which would help them clinch the top seed in the East and eventually top the Miami Heat thus winning the ticket to the NBA Finals. Their first target of the team was accomplished. But how about the ultimate goal of the Pacers? Can Paul George and Co. make it to the top of the NBA this season?
The truth is that Frank Vogel as well as most Pacers fans is worried with the team’s performance during the last month of the regular season. After recording an exceptional season the Pacers showed signs of struggle, especially on the offensive end. They even lost the No.1 seed in the East to the Miami Heat only to regain it and also secure it, following a couple of losses from the Heat.
The Indiana Pacers are still eying the Larry O’Brien trophy this year and their one and only focus is to try and earn it. Nonetheless, up to now, the Pacers haven’t really shown that they are truly capable of topping any opponent that will stand in their way. Indiana surprisingly fell to the Atlanta Hawks in Game 1 of the first – round of the playoffs in front of their home crowd. Although the Pacers went on to beat the Hawks in Game 2, that loss should work as a wakeup call.
Indiana will need its full powers to win the Larry O’Brien trophy this season. They will need all their weapons to be at their best and at the moment this doesn’t seem to be the case. In fact, one issue the Pacers have is that when they can’t get things going, there is now way they can score easy baskets.
Roy Hibbert is not nearly as dominant as he was last season, Paul George is great but experiences off – nights, Lance Stephenson is anything but consistent and the rest of the crew is trying but maybe this effort is just not enough.
The Indiana Pacers are certainly powerful title contenders. In fact, they are the strongest championship contenders together with the Miami Heat. Nevertheless, if they fail to top Miami for yet another season, this will be a huge disappointment, after all the efforts this team has done.
At the moment, we can’t really distinguish a clean favorite between the two powerhouses. The two elite teams seem to be really close to each other. However, it seems that only the Miami Heat can stand on the Pacers’ way towards the NBA Finals.
If the core of the team manages to reach the top level of their game, the Pacers will stand good chances to make it to the top. If the Pacers fail to reach their top performance they might just get hammered by King James and the Heat for the second year in a row.