#2 NEW YORK KNICKS VS. #3 INDIANA PACERS 2012-13 INDIANA PACERS SEASON PREVIEW
The New York Knicks are finally back as one of the Eastern Conference’s best teams, but they’ll have to get past the Indiana Pacers if they want the chance to prove they’re the best. The Knicks were able to beat the rival Celtics in the first round while the Pacers didn’t have too much trouble besting the Hawks to set up the semifinal.
Carmelo Anthony was this year’s scoring leader, so a lot of the Pacers defense will be concentrated on stopping him. Meanwhile, the Pacers have a plethora of players that can step up on any given night, including 6'8 forward Paul George and point guard George Hill.
The Indiana Pacers were one of the best teams in basketball during the 2011-12 NBA season, finishing with a 42-24 record and nabbing the third seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. After shocking the Orlando Magic in the first round of the playoffs, the Pacers pushed the eventual NBA Champion Miami Heat to a six game series before they were overcome by the Heat's star power. During the offseason, the Pacers knew they had a contending roster to work with, so they made a series of minor acquisitions and improved their depth to make a major run at the franchise's first NBA title.
The biggest need during the offseason for the Pacers was to re-sign All-Star center Roy Hibbert, and they did just that by keeping him under contract for the next four years. The team also traded point guard Darren Collison to Dallas for Ian Mahinmi, who should provide solid depth behind Hibbert. The team was also able to pick up former Bobcat D.J. Augustin, who may be able to showcase his true talents with a better supporting cast. The Pacers also solidified the forward position by picking up former Net Gerald Green. In the draft, the Pacers surprised many analysts with the selection of center Miles Plumlee, who was ranked far lower by most draft experts. Finally, the team selected shooting guard Orlando Johnson with their second pick, which could round out the guard position for the team.
The Pacers' starting lineup will be one of the best in the Eastern Conference, with George Hill manning the point guard position and Paul George handling the shooting guard spot. At forward, the team has an embarrassment of riches in David West and Sam Young, as well as talented backups like Tyler Hansbrough. After the offseason, the Pacers have one of the strongest center groupings in the league, a distinct size advantage that could prove beneficial when the Pacers have to match up with upper echelon teams in the playoffs.
Ultimately, the outlook for the Pacers heading into the 2012-13 season is that they have done much to improve the core of the team while adding solid depth at many positions. They are widely considered to be one of the top three teams in the NBA and fans should have another stellar season that may have the team's first championship banner in its future.
INDIANA PACERS INFORMATION:
Location: Indianapolis, Indiana
Stadium: Bankers Life Fieldhouse
Conference: Eastern Conference
Division: Central Division
Notable Players: Reggie Miller
Indiana Pacers Championship Titles: 0
Indiana Pacers Conference Titles: 1
Recommended Pacers Games:
Indiana Pacers Playoff tickets
Indiana Pacers Season Preview History
INDIANA PACERS EXPERIENCE:
Indiana is a hotbed of some of the most dedicated basketball fans in the country, and the locals follow their Indiana Hoosiers with remarkable passion. This love of basketball also translates to the professional sphere, where residents have supported the Indiana Pacers since their inaugural year in 1967. The Pacers started out in the American Basketball Association and quickly became one of the league's first dynasties by capturing titles in 1970, 1972 and 1973. The Pacers took the throne as most successful team in ABA history, and were led by a tight-knit group of players, including Mel Daniels, George McGinnis and Roger Brown.
The Pacers joined the NBA during the 1976 season, and like many other ABA teams, they had a tough time adjusting to the new level of play. Over the next decade, the team would be on the wrong side of trades and made some questionable personnel decisions, causing the organization to flounder throughout the 1980s. It wasn't until 1987 that the squad had a return to prominence by drafting one of the best long-distance shooters in NBA history, Reggie Miller.
While Miller didn't make an immediate impact on the court, he slowly but surely worked his way into the starting lineup. Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown came to the team during the 1993-94 season and gave the team instant credibility in a highly competitive Eastern Conference. It was during this period that Miller became a household name, as he strung together a number of impressive playoff performances. The Pacers were a fixture in the playoffs throughout the late '90s and early 2000s and even made an appearance in the NBA Finals in the 1999-2000 season, only to lose to the Lakers.
The Pacers peaked during the early part of the decade and began a slow decline and rebuilding process. The team returned to the playoffs in 2011, but lost to the top-seeded Chicago Bulls in six games. But with a fanbase that eats, sleeps and breathes basketball and a management team that is committed to winning, the Pacers have a bright future ahead of them. While an NBA title has eluded them after all these years, the team's fortunes are looking up as they look to bring a championship crown to Indianapolis.