Welcome to “Pretty Much Screwed,” our definitive guide to the upcoming NBA season. This team-by-team preview details why it’s probably not your favorite team’s year. Now: Let’s discuss the Indiana Pacers.
The Indiana Pacers: legitimate title contenders, or soft, Central Division fluffballs? We say it’s much closer to the former. So far the news has been all good for Indiana, which … DO’H!
— Yahoo Sports NBA (@YahooSportsNBA) October 21, 2013
Ok, the above is not great news for Pacers fans. But the fact remains that the team can probably withstand this small setback, if it indeed turns out to be one. Indiana’s bench, for the past two seasons a weakness and a big reason they couldn’t get past the Miami Heat in the playoffs, may this season actually be a strength. Gone: D.J. Augustin, Gerald Green, Tyler Hansbrough, Jeff Pedergraph, Miles Plumlee. New arrivals: Chris Copeland, Solomon Hill, Luis Scola, Donald Sloan, C.J. Watson. Plus, Granger returns (probably, maybe).
Why They May Be Screwed
The Chicago Bulls, with a new and improved Derrick Rose, are looking fantastic. Indiana has gotten better and better over the past three seasons, making it to the conference finals against the Heat in 2012-13. Some are saying this is the year they could push into the NBA Finals … but it’s still the Pacers we’re talking about. Can they shoot? Last year, Indiana was 23rd in points per game (94.7), 26th in field goal percentage (.436), and 22nd in three-point percentage (.347). That needs to dramatically improve. Can Frank Vogel get them playing excellent defense every night? Can big man Roy Hibbert have a great season? Can Paul George duplicate his All-Star season? All in all, this is still college basketball country until the Pacers prove otherwise.
Speaking of Rose …
After the Bulls clobbered the Pacers in a preseason game on Friday, Rose declared the Miami Heat as the Bulls’ rival — not Indiana.
“People say that it’s a rivalry, but I don’t really see it,” Rose said before scoring 32 points in the team’s 103-98 win against the Pacers. “I say the team that is more like a rivalry is when Darren Collison was on the team.”
Pacers Fun Facts
• From Sunday night’s Fan Jam: “Frank Vogel hopped on a tricycle for the first time since he was a tike. Racers had to ride all the way down the floor, around a cone, and back. Rasual Butler zoomed past coach but his partner, Orlando Johnson needed Ian Mahinmi’s assistance to point and move him in the right direction. Behind a strong effort from Donald Sloan, Vogel’s team won. ”
• The Pacers are the first NBA team to sell on-court advertising.
• Has Roy Hibbert invented a new style of defense? No, but … “The Toronto Raptors have worked extensively with Jonas Valanciunas on the “Hibbert”, which is jumping vertically to challenge shooters instead of reaching.”
• More Fan Jam (oy vey): “Danny Granger, Lance Stephenson, Solomon Hill and Paul George had a Kleenex box full of Ping-Pong balls tied around their waste. With music playing in the background, the guys had to shake it to see who could empty their Kleenex box first.”
And still no word on why the Pacers are named after a racehorse, but their mascot in a panther.
— Solar Sports Desk (@SolarSportsDesk) October 10, 2013
Prediction: 49-33, 2nd in Central.