With the start of the 2013-14 NBA season rapidly approaching, we thought it only fair to share what makes each team so exciting. Ontologically speaking, all 30 teams deserve our eyeballs this season. Even disastrous lineups still present oodles of plays, personalities, highlights and headaches. Here are five things to keep in mind for each team before flipping the channel.
Next up, a Pacers team that significantly improved their bench.
[5 Reasons To Watch: Kings, Lakers, Knicks, 76ers, Bobcats, Cavs, Magic, Warriors, Timberwolves, Nuggets, Clippers, Clippers, Rockets, Bulls, Pistons, Bucks, Nets, Pacers, Wizards, Thunder, Heat, Mavericks, Celtics, Raptors Hawks, Spurs, Trail Blazers, Grizzlies, Suns, Jazz]
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.
Danny Granger’s Return
Another major reason to watch the Pacers this season is the return of Danny Granger. Granger has been an interesting character for the Pacers. His confidence appeared in the 2012 playoffs against the Heat, where all he did was trash talk LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, trying to get in their head.
The Pacers were able to do a ton despite Granger’s absence last season. He only played five games in total, and many wonder what Indiana could have done had he been healthy. Who knows, maybe Granger could have been the guy to put this team over the hump in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Heat?
It’s still unsure how Granger will do since he’s basically a full year removed from playing at a high level. Nonetheless, it’s one of the reasons why the Pacers are a team to watch this season.
Goliath Roy Hibbert
If you haven’t seen what Roy Hibbert has looked like â€” as of late â€” it’s truly magnificent. He makes Tim Duncan look puny in this picture:
The man has gotten even bigger, now, and basically looks like the biblical Goliath, except David [West] is on his team! He already was before, considering he’s 7-2. However, for the past few seasons Hibbert has been labeled as “soft,” with many questioning his ability to bang on the low block for a full game. Hibbert started slowly last year â€” after signing his lucrative extension over the summer of 2011 â€” but he started to crank things up big time towards the end of the season and in the playoffs.
Now that Hibbert has gotten considerably bigger, many wonder if his increased bulk can finally put him over the hump as one of the top centers in the league. There’s been a lot of debate about whether Hibbert can compete with the likes of Dwight Howard, Tyson Chandler and the other NBA Goliath’s.
If he can get his post game working again, and dominate for the full season with his add muscle, the sky’s the limit for big Roy.
Eastern Conference Seeding
Despite performing well in the playoffs last season, Indiana is still considered a lightweight in terms of league drawing power. They aren’t appearing on national TV very much and that’s because some believe their defensive-oriented game anathema to casual NBA fans. Indiana will only appear 10 times on ESPN and TNT this year, which gives League Pass subscribers another reason to check them out.
Indiana is no boring Eastern Conference team. On paper, they’re stacked, as mentioned before. The Pacers, if all things go well, could in fact finish with the best record in the Eastern Conference. But it’s all about the usual factors like gelling as a team and injury luck.
No one knows how good they’ll be, along with their Central division rivals, the Chicago Bulls â€” who’ll have Derrick Rose returning. The Pacers also play different in comparison to other teams in the East, like the Heat, Nets and Bulls, but the latter two will likely be making defense more of a priority this season.
Usually, the Pacers give the Heat the most trouble, despite the fact the Heat won the Eastern Conference the last three years. With the Bulls, Indiana has a tougher time because the Bulls match up well with them in the frontcourt and Derrick Rose is well beyond the reach of George Hill, which means Paul George might spend some time on the 2011 MVP in the future.
Please, folks, do not be shocked if the Pacers finish with the best record in the East. Go back to the 2011-12 season, and you may remember seeing the Bulls finish ahead of Miami in the standings. However, everyone knew that Miami would be the team to beat once the postseason rolled around.
That’s exactly how I’ll see this season play out, with Miami finishing second or maybe even third in the East. Now, for the Heat, it’s all about how they perform in the postseason, but a top seed in the East isn’t beyond the realm of possibilities as the Pacers gel even more as a team and after they improved their bench so much during the offseason. A longer rotation also means more rest come playoff time, and that can only mean good things for Indiana’s only professional basketball team.
If the Pacers do finish with the top seed, League Pass owners will definitely get their money’s worth.
What do you think?
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