Mark it down, the Indiana Pacers are officially playoff bound. There’s still some work left to be done in the next 14 games to ensure that this will be a lengthy playoff run. But for now, that’s a good thing to see that this team is back there for the third straight year. You know there’s talent on this team, and to be sitting in the second spot in the Eastern Conference is about as well as you could have hoped to do. If the Miami Heat weren’t doing their thing, who knows if the Pacers don’t make a push for that top spot. But when the Cavs have the Heat down 27 at one point, and end up on the losing end, that shows this Heat team is geared up. If the Pacers can get going in the playoffs, that looks to be a Conference Finals match up. But let’s not get too far ahead, and look at what’s in the now.
This team back in the playoffs is a big testament to that coaching change that took place a couple of years ago. Frank Vogel came in and brought in a whole new sense of coaching for this team. He’s quite the optimist, which was the very opposite of Jim O’Brien. Vogel looked to be such a great fit for the young guys of this team. He would pump them up and build up their confidence so much. Just ask Roy Hibbert about that. Look at how far along he’s come since that coaching change. Look at the team, and making it to the playoffs in that time Vogel took over, and they end up pushing the Chicago Bulls in a tough first round match up. Then last year, giving the Heat all they could handle. Now the Pacers sit right there in second primed for a good playoff run.
It starts at the top for me for the success of this team. But you can’t discredit all the players’ efforts as well. Who knew Paul George would have made the leap he did this season? It was quite the blessing in disguise that Danny Granger goes down, and George steps up his game. Lance Stephenson has come around a bit as well. Sure there’s good and bad Lance, but for the most part, he looks to much improved on the floor. He’s got some passing skills that guys would definitely want in their own game.
How about the bench being torn apart and refitted? There are times this bench looks dead in the water, and there are times when the bench has helped to get the team back into the game. If the bench can continue like they ‘ve done in the past couple of games, then this Pacers team will be set to go. Those two games against the Cleveland Cavaliers and Orlando Magic came at the best time, when the Pacers were looking a bit lost. Now there seems to be a refocus, but this weekend could be just as important. A game against the Milawaukee Bucks, who could be a possible first round playoff series for the Pacers. A game against the Chicago Bulls, where the Pacers look for the sweep. The Pacers should end up winning the division, but getting a season sweep of the Bulls, who have won the division for a few years now would be the cherry on top.
This regular season ends in 14 games, but then comes the next season. The playoff season, where we really see where this Pacers team can go. Expectations should be high, and fans should throw all their support in. I’ve been telling you how good this team can be, so you’ve got 14 games left to catch them. 6 home games left to see what I’m talking about. When the Pacers are clicking, this team is a pleasure to watch. Go see for yourself.