This could have been the Indiana Pacers' championship and that should motivate them

The Boston Celtics are the 2024 NBA Champions, but we cannot forget how close the Indiana Pacers were to spoiling their parade before it happened, and neither should the players.
Indiana Pacers v Dallas Mavericks
Indiana Pacers v Dallas Mavericks / Tim Heitman/GettyImages

The Boston Celtics are your 2024 NBA Champions! However, we should take some time to think about how easily this could have been the Indiana Pacers instead.

Indiana's 2024 playoff journey has been well documented, both on this site and off it, so this will not take long. Despite most assuming they would be chewed up and spat out in four games akin to a Welcome Mat, the Pacers tested the Boston Celtics the most out of any of their playoff opponents, including perhaps even the Dallas Mavericks. For three of the four games played in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Pacers had big leads but squandered them in the fourth quarter to ultimately get swept 4-0 and end their Cinderella run short of the NBA Finals.

Despite the sweep, the Pacers have been getting more respect from basketball fans everywhere after some rather embarrassing performances by the Mavericks in the NBA Finals, namely their blowout Game 1 loss or their 18-point loss in Game 5 to end the series.

At this point, it is worth noting the Pacers' success in the regular season against the Mavericks, and their clash of styles. In two meetings in the 2023-24 season, both after the trade deadline, the Pacers beat the Mavericks by 17 and 22 points, respectively. Indiana did a fantastic job containing the red-hot Dallas offense and the onslaught by Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving, benefiting from some great performances in their own right from the hometown kid Myles Turner.

While it is reasonable to say that a 2-0 season series advantage wouldn't matter much in the playoffs where rotations are shortened and your best players have the ball more, Indiana's frantic style of play and abundance of talent in the frontcourt would give them more than a puncher's chance against this Dallas team had they faced off in the Finals.

Perhaps Indiana's defense wouldn't be able to stop the high-scoring nights of Luka Doncic, but the ball would not move much on Dallas' end due to their isolation-heavy offense. This would give Indiana a great opportunity to run Dallas out of the gym with their speed and conditioning and take advantage in a hypothetical series.

In the end, there is not more benefit to asking who would win a series that did not happen. At the end of the day, the Indiana Pacers were eliminated in the Conference Finals. However, this could have very easily been their championship if a few possessions went their way, and the players should all know that.


Rick Carlisle needs to hammer home how close this young team was to shocking the world even more, and the front office needs to do their best to keep everyone's confidence high. A confident, more experienced Indiana Pacers team with a better defense will be hard to stop in the 2024-25 season.