Roy Hibbert and David West, during Monday's Game 7 loss (Getty Images)
With every season that ends, for the playoff teams at least, we felt it right to take a look ahead. TNT already has the rights to "Gone Fishin'," and because we're sure that someone, somewhere, still likes that Wyclef song, we're going with "Gone Till November." And, yes, we know the season starts in October. Today? The Indiana Pacers.
Short memories may get in the way of remembering just how many people thought that a Miami/Indiana Eastern Conference final was going to be the expected result of the 2012-13 season when things tipped off last October. Some may have leaned heavily toward New York to put it all together, or Derrick Rose to return for home stretch and lead the Chicago Bulls to the third round, but Indiana was quite a few observers’ expected third round pairing. The Pacers were always going to win the Central, and they always were going to give a good postseason showing after impressive clashes with Chicago in 2011, and Miami in 2012. What was left for them, last fall, was to put that roster and that experience together in order to make the next step.
Indiana made that third round, taking the Heat to its second straight seventh game in the Eastern Conference finals. And because the Pacers are comparatively much younger and come much cheaper than last year’s Miami combatant – the aging and well-financed Boston Celtics – the easy assumption is that things are on the upswing in Indiana. A first followed by second followed by third round defeat, if NBA history is any indication, is prologue to a trip to the Finals and a possible championship. And when you factor in the team’s obvious matchup benefits with Miami, and the possible decline of LeBron James’ supporting cast, the future has to look bright.
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