The Pacers looked like world-beaters back in the day — and by back in the day, I mean December. Paul George was playing like an MVP candidate. Lance Stephenson seemed a lock for Most Improved Player. Roy Hibbert and David West were the best frontcourt in the league. The bench, unlike the year before, was deep… or, at least, deeper. They were in magazine shoots (looking like sleepy hipsters) and discussed as title contenders. Life was good.
But here’s the thing about great teams — they’re never made in the regular season. That’s what the playoffs are for. The Pacers were getting accolades way before they had actually won anything — so when we started talking about them in the same breath as the Heat and Spurs, we were way ahead of ourselves. First place in the Eastern Conference was impressive, until you realized the Eastern Conference is garbage.
So who are the true Pacers? Are they the team we saw in December, or the team we’re seeing now, the one that got rocked by the Atlanta Hawks and seems to hate playing together? Until we see otherwise, they’re simply a good team in a weak conference that can’t possibly get past the Heat in a seven-game series, which is all that matters. Sorry.