Next up, a Pacers team that significantly improved their bench.
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Since the 2011-12 NBA season, the Indiana Pacers have put themselves back on the NBA map as one of the league’s top teams.
They have given the Miami Heat trouble in their last two postseason appearances, most notably forcing a seven-game series in the Eastern Conference Finals last year. Indiana is set for another big season, with several star players returning that are looking to improve their craft as they contend with the likes of the Heat, Bulls and Nets in the East.
Indiana will be one of the top teams to watch this season, so here are 5 to keep an eye on as you take in the 2013-14 Indiana Pacers.
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The Pacers are entering this season with one of the deepest squads in the NBA. The starting 5 says enough with George Hill, Paul George, Danny Granger, David West and Roy Hibbert. On the bench, we’ll most likely see C.J. Watson, Lance Stephenson, Chris Copeland, Luis Scola and Ian Mahinmi.
Hill and George combine to form a solid duo in the backcourt, which leads to the G2 Zone. Along with that, the idea of George and Granger together on the floor will be spell danger for several opposing defenses. The frontcourt duo of West and Hibbert is also hard to beat (ask the Heat).
The bench features two solid shooters from beyond the arc in Watson and Copeland. Stephenson is growing into the player everyone thought he’d become coming out of high school, and is slowly forming into the “Born Ready” star many feel is his destiny. Scola is a great scorer, and though he is getting older, he still has enough left in the tank. Mahinmi will be the guy in the frontcourt doing all the dirty work: getting rebounds, swatting shots and more.
A deep team like this, spells greatness for Indiana this season. It’ll all be about how the chemistry fits with this squad once the 2013-14 (finally) begins.
Growth of Paul George
NBA fans around the world were able to get a good glimpse of Paul George on a national scale in a few different venues: the 2012 NBA Dunk Contest, the 2013 All-Star Game, or most notably, his performance in the Eastern Conference Finals.
George is slowly growing into a superstar, as he’s met most of his expectations last season. Without Granger, who was the team’s leader, George took the reins of that role and handled it perfectly. Now, this is his team.
George has shown he can do a little bit of everything, from shooting 3s, getting rebounds, playing lockdown perimeter defense on guys like LeBron James, or throwing down sick dunks (ask Chris “Birdman” Andersen). If George continues his dominance this season, expect the 2013 Most Improved Player of the Year to be all over the place when it comes to superstar status.