The Indiana Pacers are ahead of schedule now that they're in the Conference Finals

Nobody expected the Pacers to make it to the Conference Finals this soon after a rebuild.
Indiana Pacers v New York Knicks - Game Seven
Indiana Pacers v New York Knicks - Game Seven / Elsa/GettyImages

I never thought I'd be saying this, but the Indiana Pacers are in the 2024 Eastern Conference Finals.

If you asked anyone prior to the season where they thought the Pacers would be right now, I guarantee you that 99% of them would not think that they would be packing their bags ready to battle the Boston Celtics for the East crown. Vegas odds had the Pacers at anywhere from 38-40 wins and many analysts predicted them to be somewhere in the Play-In hunt and an almost unanimous first-round exit.

Even when they traded for Pascal Siakam, nobody anticipated Indiana getting this far. Some had them making the second round but not much further than that, as they thought the duo of Tyrese Haliburton and Siakam would need a full offseason to gel, especially after Haliburton's injury against Boston in January caused him to go into a brutal slump in the second half of the season.

Things got worse when Bennedict Mathurin, a major rotation player and Indiana's fourth-leading scorer up to that point was ruled out for the rest of the season due to surgery on his torn labrum.

At that time, Indiana was still jockeying to avoid the Play-In Tournament and make the playoffs outright, which they did, although it took one last effort in the last game of the season against Atlanta to make it happen. In the first round, Indy shocked the world by advancing to the second round for the first time since 2014 for a matchup with the New York Knicks in the Conference Semifinals.

Prior to this series starting, every single ESPN analyst predicted the Knicks to win the series, which seemed like a smart bet after the first two games and New York leading the series 2-0. Unfortunately for ESPN, what they did not account for was Indiana tying up the series and eventually coming back to win two in a row, including Game 7 in Madison Square Garden to advance to the Conference Finals.

This is a good time to remind people that this Pacers team is ahead of schedule. They only traded for Tyrese Haliburton two years ago. In the 2021-22 season, the Pacers finished with a 25-57 record. The following season, Indiana was on pace to make the playoffs but an injury to Tyrese Haliburton caused them to fizzle out and finish with 35 wins. Only a year later, the Pacers won 47 games and are four possible wins away from the NBA Finals. Injuries or not, nobody had the Pacers making it this far.

The Pacers are only getting started as well. With most of their players locked up for the future, as well as Pascal Siakam's inevitable contract extension in the summer of 2024, NBA fans will have to deal with this team tearing it up for the near future.

That's especially true if Jarace Walker gets playing time next season and develops into a rotation player, whether that be as a starter alongside Siakam or a backup to him, he will only help this team reach its full potential, which it has not reached yet.


If NBA fans are tired of the Pacers now, they have not seen the worst of it. The second-youngest playoff team this year is headed to the Conference Finals, a place that nobody had them entering at the start of the season.