Apr 16, 2014; Orlando, FL, USA; The Indiana Pacers walk out of the locker room before the start of the game as the Pacers beat the Orlando Magic 101-86 at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

Sports Illustrated: Pacers rank 10th in East

The Pacers went from being locked into the top half of the Eastern Conference playoff picture to likely out of the playoffs after Paul George jumped in the air to block James Harden’s layup. An unfortunate event has put the Pacers in the 2015 NBA Draft Lottery.

Sports Illustrated’s Rob Mahoney states the obvious about the loss of Paul George and Lance Stephenson.

Indiana Pacers – A Pacers team without Paul George and Stephenson isn’t all that menacing, particularly if Roy Hibbert can’t find his way out of the sinkhole he inhabited last we left him. The offense will naturally suffer for the loss of the two players on the roster who could actually create off the dribble, which doesn’t bode well for a team that already ranked 29th in offense last season after the All-Star break. Without George’s and Stephenson’s stellar work in guarding the perimeter, though, the integrity of the Pacers’ team defense might also be forfeit. C.J. Milesand Rodney Stuckey — both of whom were signed this summer — are fine players but poor substitutes.

Sports Illustrated has ranked them 10th in the east.

The C.J. Miles and Rodney Stuckey signings were quality. The Pacers needed other creators to lessen the load on Paul George and replicate what Lance does a bit on offense. That plan is wiped out with Paul George out.

Stuckey and Miles are going to have a hard time putting up above-average efficiency as the main creators.

CBS Sports’s Zach Harper spoke about the transition the Pacers will have to take.

The Paul George injury changes everything we thought we knew, were learning, or could question about the Pacers’ offseason. None of it seems to matter anymore. Miles and Stuckey are quality signings, but in the aftermath of such a horrific injury that might cost George at least the year, this team has a lot to figure out. Figuring those things out won’t come for quite some time, nor should they. Once George is out of surgery and they have a timetable for when he might be able to return, they can start planning out the future of this roster and how it can maintain in the meantime.

But none of that really seems relevant just quite yet. This is a team in transition, but they’re also going to be much more concerned with being there for George. Until we see how they begin to regroup and what they have to say about themselves and the situation at the beginning of training camp, it all seems entirely too speculative to expand upon.

The defense can carry this team to around 30 wins. George Hill, David West and Roy Hibbert won’t allow easy hoops. The wing positions defensively are weak and questionable but Vogel and the players are smart enough to devise and execute a plan to limit opportunities.

Offensively this is going to get ugly. I imagine there will be a ton of forced post-ups to Hibbert and West. A lot of bad shots on the perimeter without an All-Start forward to lean on. I’m interested to see if Solomon Hill and Chris Copeland get comfortable enough to play 20 minutes a game by All-Star Break. The development of the role guys will be key for Paul George’s return.

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