If there was ever the right time for the Pacers to make that next step up, it would be this coming season. They are bringing back their starting lineup that meshed well together in the last month of the season to one of the better records in April. They have young guys out there that are hungry for something more to show the NBA that Indiana is home to basketball.
George Hill and Roy Hibbert are going to be paid a good chunk of change to stick around the team for the next seasons. This was a move that had to be made in my own mind as they are two guys that are integral to that lineup. Roy Hibbert was an All-Star center last year as a reserve and should be right back there this coming season. George Hill stepped into the starting lineup after an injury to Darren Collison and performed even better with those guys. Darren Collison is now gone, so this is Hill’s job to lead the team.
You look around the Central Division, and yes the Chicago Bulls are the team to beat. That Bulls team has decimated their bench, and they will be without Derrick Rose for some time this coming season. It’s definitely up to the Pacers to get those wins together early, build a lead in the division, and stay the course to a division title.
When is the last time the Pacers have had those kind of expectations? Possibly the year of the Brawl, when they were cruising to a great record. Before that, it was always expected with Reggie Miller here, the Pacers would contend. That is why it’s so important for the Pacers to make this next step, and win the division this coming season.
Looking over last year, and seeing the Pacers finished 8 games out of first place, even with the good season they had, makes me very optimistic about this coming season. Other than the Bulls, I can’t see the other Central Division teams getting that much better and challenging for the title.
The team that I think could play a bit of a spoiler is the Cavaliers, but even that team is a few years away from really contending. This division should belong to the Pacers and Bulls as long as those teams are at full strength.
What are your expectations for the Pacers in the Central Division?