After three straight winning seasons and two, which saw them make the Eastern Conference Finals, the Indiana Pacers missed the playoffs last year, finishing with a meager 38-44 record. After losing budding star Paul George to a gruesome broken leg for all but the final six games of last season, the Pacers seemed directionless with no solution in sight. After this offseason saw the departure of both David West and Roy Hibbert, GM Larry Bird went out and added the smooth combo guard, Monta Ellis to join George Hill in the backcourt. Furthermore, to replace the giant voids left in the paint by the departure of their starting front court, the Pacers then signed energetic Jordan Hill and drafted Myles Turner with the No. 11 overall selection.
However, with the losses of both Hibbert and West bring the opportunity to reinvent themselves for the Pacers. Indiana’s head coach, Frank Vogel, has already expressed his desire to play a lot faster, even suggesting he will use Paul George at the power forward spot in an attempt to improve spacing and speed.
Graphic via serbuteros
However the Pacers’ bread and butter still is defense. Their No. 1 ranked defensive throughout 2013-2014 campaign was feared across the league and drew comparisons to many of the top defensive squads of all time due to their physicality and toughness. This past season, however, saw the fall of their defensive to the No. 8 slot. It seems as if it’s a near impossible task for them to regain traction as one of the league’s top defenses again, especially after the loss of their defensive anchor Roy Hibbert.
The Indiana Pacers schedule has them set to open the season at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. This looks to be an important test for their team defensive, as they begin their campaign against a team that is looking to retain its top three offense from a year ago. Although he appeared in the final six games of the season, this will also represent a fresh start for small forward Paul George. His first match-up is projected to be against the newly acquired DeMarre Carroll, a player the Raptors brought in for his hardworking defensive tenacity. With the talent level that surrounds him this season, George is likely going to attract the best lockdown defender of each team on a nightly basis.
Another interesting season series in the Indiana Pacers schedule that projects to be a fun match-up is against divisional rival Cleveland Cavaliers. After three straight years in which the Pacers were eliminated at the hands of LeBron James and the Miami Heat, the Pacers will be desperate to prove that they belong in the upper echelon on the Eastern Conference once again. This again will be a true test for PG13, as it will be a storyline in itself to see how he performs against the game’s best player.
Graphic via hoopshabit