The Indiana Pacers are a curious team. They should have finished off the Heat in the second round of last years playoffs, but eventually fell in six games after poor tactics involving Roy Hibbert, their 7'2 center. Here's a look at how the Pacers would stack up against the C's.
PF: West/Hansbrough/ Pendergraph
The Pacers have very strong depth in their team all across the board. The point guard spot is fortified with George Hill, a solid player whom the Pacers massively overpaid at 4 yrs/40 million. The Pacers expect him to take the reins from Darren Collison last year, and have a bigger all around impact on the game. Indy brought in DJ Augustin in free agency to back up Hill, and I like this move a lot. Augustin has NBA experience starting for the Bobcats, and is a solid distributor who can also put in around 10 points a night.
The Pacers shooting guard position has the potential to be stacked, or could end up being a complete flop depending on the young players and how they fare this season. Paul George has the tools and the build to be the next big superstar in the NBA, but so far he has somewhat underachieved. George is extremely lengthy for a shooting guard at 6'10, and he also possesses the ability to shoot the three ball. If George can turn into the stud that he is meant to be, the Pacers will have a legitimate superstar who can carry the team through the playoffs. Lance Stephenson and Orlando Johnson are both promising youngsters, especially Stephenson who was one of the leading scorers in summer league this season. Look for Stephenson to get some decent minutes off the bench.
Danny Granger has always been a *good* scorer for the Pacers, but he has definitely lost a step, his points were one of his career lows at 18.7 points a game. That's down from the 25 he was averaging two seasons ago. Granger is a very strong shooter, and also a solid defender, but he needs to regain his confidence to be able to score late in games. A theory for why his points dropped was because the Pacers were a very good team last season, so others were able to take some of the load. That being said, there are times when Granger will be needed to be selfish and take it upon himself to carry the team. The Pacers dipped into the free agency market and acquired the services of Gerald Green, a 5th year 6'8 swingman from the Nets. Green will likely get a good amount of minutes to spell Granger, and will be asked to go for 10 to 15 points off the bench.
The Pacers are deep at power forward with two reliable options: one with veteran David West, and two with the tenacious and intense Tyler Hansbrough. Hansbrough has come a long way from when the Pacers selected him in the first round three drafts ago, and will hope to become a key cog in the Pacers machine this upcoming season. West is a veteran and a large contributor on both sides of the ball.
The Pacers are strong in depth at center after re-signing Roy Hibbert and trading for Ian Mahini. Hibbert continues to improve after being named to his first all star team this past season. Mahini is a solid back-up to Hibbert and will not be expected to produce any big numbers, aside from rebounds.
Looking at the Pacers roster, and the fact that they have a good coach in Frank Vogel, it all comes down to the development of a key group of their players. If George takes the leap that he is capable of and Granger gets to 20 points a game than this team will be scary good. While they still lack experience that comes with going deep in the playoffs this team plays fantastic defense and has eight or nine players who are double digit scoring threats on any given night.
The Pacers stack up quite well against the C's, they are two somewhat similar teams in that they play tough D. The one big advantage for Boston is that they have Rajon Rondo and Indy doesn't. Rondo is a playmaker especially on the offensive side of the ball and he would likely take George Hill to school in a best of seven series.
If you have any questions or comments, please leave a comment in the comment box below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. My next team preview will be of the New York Knicks.