1 Key thing Pacers must do to avoid disastrous Hawks-like fate

Indiana will need to take this approach this summer if they are to remain in contention for years to come.
Pascal Siakam, Indiana Pacers
Pascal Siakam, Indiana Pacers / Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

One of the more recent lessons we as viewers of the NBA are learning is that how teams build their rosters is changing. Gone are the days of stacking talent and assembling a "big three," and simply hoping the rest figures itself out. We saw the Phoenix Suns go that route this past season, and it blew up in their face in a big way. Instead, the route the Indiana Pacers have taken has proven to be a much more reliable one.

Trading for Tyrese Haliburton in 2022, Indiana found their star player and worked on slowly crafting a team around him that made sense. Eventually, the Pacers added Bennedict Mathurin, Aaron Nesmith, Bruce Brown, Obi Toppin and others to assemble a roster built to win consistently. Acquiring Pascal Siakam in early 2024 was the move that tied everything together and primed this team for a deep run in the playoffs.

As we saw over the last six weeks, their moves are already paying off in a big way. Making the conference finals this soon in the team's journey is a big accomplishment, and it is especially impressive considering they did it while defeating two teams that most thought they would lose to. But as the Pacers move forward, they will need to stay vigilant and avoid making crucial mistakes like the one that one of their in-conference foes fell victim to recently.

The Pacers will need to avoid repeating the Hawks' crippling mistake

The rival I am speaking of is the Atlanta Hawks. Of course, we all remember the Hawks' fantastic run to the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2020-21 season. They took down the top-seeded Philadelphia 76ers in the conference semis in seven games, advancing to face the Milwaukee Bucks and preventing a Giannis Antetokounmpo-Joel Embiid clash in the conference finals.

Instead, it was Atlanta facing off with Milwaukee for the right to advance to the NBA Finals. The Hawks were the fifth seed and were on something of a miracle run at the time. The thought process around them at the time was one of intrigue. "They couldn't possibly beat the Bucks and be playing in the Finals... Or could they?" This was the the way they were viewed at the time. Their run would ultimately fall short with them losing in six games to the eventual champions.

But after this season, Atlanta's front office made a massive mistake. Seeing the kind of run they had just gone on, management opted to pay everyone to keep that group around for another year. They extended Trae Young and Clint Capela, while re-signing John Collins, Lou Williams, Gorgui Dieng and Solomon Hill. Some of these players needed to come back, but others of these signings were simply recency bias.

Seeing how Indiana just went on a similar run as this Hawks this past season, it will be of the utmost importance that they do not repeat the Hawks' mistakes. Continue building a strong roster and look to improve with smart moves while keeping spending in check, rather than just re-signing everyone. Adaptation is key in this league, and the reality is that Tyrese Haliburton and Pascal Siakam are unlikely to bring this team a championship as the first and second options.