Winning the Central Division was projected to be tough task for the Indiana Pacers at the beginning of the season. It seemed as though that feat would only be accomplished by winning somewhere in the range of 75% of their matchups over the course of an 82-game NBA slate.
A forethought of conquering the divisional crown included overtaking star point guard Derrick Rose and his Chicago Bulls. Led by mastermind head coach Tom Thibodeau, the Bulls returned to the discussion leading into the 2013-14 season with Rose’s return from injury.
Although Indiana is deemed the defending Central Division champions, Chicago was king before their rival from past decades stole it away last spring. It just so happened the Pacers owned the division last year with Rose planted on the sidelines going through rehabilitation. The former No. 1 overall draft pick had torn his ACL in the 2012 postseason.
Now that the blue and gold have established themselves as one of the monsters in the Eastern Conference and across the league, they have realized that winning their division is a top priority from the outset.
The Pacers realized that Rose or no Rose, they possessed the extraordinary talent and characteristics needed to be considered among the NBA’s elite. And operating in that status for an entire season wouldn’t be a problem — Indiana was going to do it no matter what happened outside of its control.
Not only did the Indiana Pacers ensure that another banner would be raised inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse, they did so while defeating their rival from South Beach: the Miami Heat.
An 84-83 dogfight victory Wednesday in front of the sellout crowd of 18,165 in Indianapolis marked a second consecutive season of Indiana winning the Central Division. In September and October, the feat could not be imagined a possibility without a peep from Chicago.
A couple players were asked their opinion on what it means to win the division. George Hill and David West mentioned, to Scott Agness of Pacers.com, that this is a first step.
“Our goal is to win a championship and that’s a stepping stone to get to that,” said George Hill,.
Fact is, no matter the outcome of the playoffs, Indiana will once again enter another season as defending Central champs. Now it’s on to reaching bigger and better heights. The focus shifts to the next step, which is that playoff mentality.
“Obviously, we have bigger goals,” Pacers head coach Frank Vogel said.
But for at least one day, and at most, two, Indiana can enjoy a second straight divisional crown.
Tags: Indiana Pacers