In an effort to catch up with the front running Cavaliers in the East, the Pacers were one of the most active teams this offseason as Larry Bird has been on a mission to build a roster capable of playing his preferred up-tempo style. Indiana will have a new look in the backcourt and on the sideline following the dismissal of Frank Vogel after five successful seasons.
The Pacers’ offseason moves are designed to move them to the top and contend with Cleveland and Boston for the Eastern Conference crown. Former assistant Nate McMillan was named the team’s coach in June. The Pacers may have one of the most balanced teams in the East. Unfortunately, they haven’t been to the conference finals since 2000 when Bird was still coaching.
2015-16 Record: 45-37 SU, 41-40-1 ATS, 37-45 O/U
NBA Championship Odds: +10000
The Pacers desperately needed Paul George to get back to the Paul George of old. He did, and Indiana rebounded from a down year to return to the postseason. While it wasn’t the stifling unit it had been when the Pacers were challenging the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals, the defense was back and ranked third in the league. The offense was improved as well.
The Pacers did enough to sneak into the postseason as the No. 7 seed with a 45-37 record. The team’s best development was George returning to his All-NBA self by the end of the season. Playing a full season since his gruesome leg injury, George averaged a career-best 23.1 points and played in 81 games. He was the best player on the floor as the Pacers pushed the Raptors to seven games in the first round of the playoffs.
An NBA title wasn’t on the agenda for the Pacers last season, and few thought that a playoff appearance was. But Indy surprised a lot of folks with grit and tenacity. The development of center Myles Turner has given the team its center of the future. The 11th overall pick in the 2015 draft, Turner showed flashes of greatness during the second half of the year.
By early January, he was inserted into the starting lineup and the move seemed to energize the club. His best stretch of basketball came during a 19-game run in February when he averaged 15 points per game and shot 56 percent. He became a bigger part of the rotation and an important piece in the playoff-bound lineup.
After 250 wins in a little more than five full seasons, Vogel was let go by the Pacers during the offseason in favor of his associate head coach McMillan. While Vogel had success, reaching the postseason four times in his five full seasons, management, in particular Bird, wanted the team to go in a different direction offensively. While acknowledging Vogel’s success, Bird also expressed a desire for the team to go small and to play faster, something Vogel wasn’t willing to do.
And that made the coaching hire somewhat curious. McMillan had success in both Seattle and Portland, but his teams often ranked at the bottom of the league in pace. McMillan’s teams have played a deliberate style that emphasizes possessions and controls the ball. He will need to adapt his coaching philosophy to the style of play Bird wants to see.
The Pacers acquired one of the top point guards in the league, swinging a deal to get Jeff Teague. The former Hawk saw his numbers decline a bit last season, averaging 15.7 points and 5.9 assists, but Atlanta also opted to give more minutes to Dennis Schroder, which resulted in decreased minutes for Teague. Overall, the 28-year-old is still one of the more talented point guards in the NBA and should be an upgrade over George Hill.
Adding depth to the roster, the Pacers traded their 20th overall pick to get Thaddeus Young in a win-now move. With the Nets last season, Young averaged 15.1 points and nine rebounds. Playing alongside George he should improve on those numbers.
Al Jefferson was also signed as a free agent and former Iowa State star Georges Niang was drafted in the second round to add additional depth. Jefferson is a perfect option to come in and offer some bench scoring, as long as he stays healthy. With all the new parts and a new coach, it might be tempting to overlook the Pacers this season.
|Indiana Pacers Regular Season Basketball Schedule|
|Wed, Oct 28||Indiana Pacers @ Toronto||7:30 PM|
|Thu, Oct 29||Indiana Pacers vs Memphis||7:00 PM|
|Sat, Oct 31||Indiana Pacers vs Utah||7:00 PM|
|Tue, Nov 3||Indiana Pacers @ Detroit||7:30 PM|
|Wed, Nov 4||Indiana Pacers vs Boston||7:00 PM|
|Fri, Nov 6||Indiana Pacers vs Miami||8:00 PM|
|Sun, Nov 8||Indiana Pacers @ Cleveland||3:30 PM|
|Mon, Nov 9||Indiana Pacers vs Orlando||7:00 PM|
|Wed, Nov 11||Indiana Pacers @ Boston||7:30 PM|
|Fri, Nov 13||Indiana Pacers vs Minnesota||7:00 PM|
|Mon, Nov 16||Indiana Pacers @ Chicago||8:00 PM|
|Wed, Nov 18||Indiana Pacers @ Philadelphia||7:00 PM|
|Sat, Nov 21||Indiana Pacers vs Milwaukee||7:00 PM|
|Tue, Nov 24||Indiana Pacers @ Washington||7:00 PM|
|Fri, Nov 27||Indiana Pacers vs Chicago||8:00 PM|
|Sun, Nov 29||Indiana Pacers @ Los Angeles||9:30 PM|
|Wed, Dec 2||Indiana Pacers @ Los Angeles||10:30 PM|
|Thu, Dec 3||Indiana Pacers @ Portland||10:00 PM|
|Sat, Dec 5||Indiana Pacers @ Utah||9:00 PM|
|Tue, Dec 8||Indiana Pacers vs Golden State||7:00 PM|
|Fri, Dec 11||Indiana Pacers vs Miami||7:00 PM|
|Sat, Dec 12||Indiana Pacers @ Detroit||7:30 PM|
|Mon, Dec 14||Indiana Pacers vs Toronto||7:00 PM|
|Wed, Dec 16||Indiana Pacers vs Dallas||7:00 PM|
|Fri, Dec 18||Indiana Pacers vs Brooklyn||7:00 PM|
|Sat, Dec 19||Indiana Pacers @ Memphis||8:00 PM|
|Mon, Dec 21||Indiana Pacers @ San Antonio||8:30 PM|
|Wed, Dec 23||Indiana Pacers vs Sacramento||7:00 PM|
|Sat, Dec 26||Indiana Pacers @ Minnesota||8:00 PM|
|Mon, Dec 28||Indiana Pacers vs Atlanta||7:00 PM|
|Wed, Dec 30||Indiana Pacers @ Chicago||8:00 PM|
|Thu, Dec 31||Indiana Pacers vs Milwaukee||6:00 PM|
|Sat, Jan 2||Indiana Pacers vs Detroit||7:00 PM|
|Mon, Jan 4||Indiana Pacers @ Miami||7:30 PM|
|Wed, Jan 6||Indiana Pacers @ Orlando||7:00 PM|
|Fri, Jan 8||Indiana Pacers @ New Orleans||8:00 PM|
|Sun, Jan 10||Indiana Pacers @ Houston||7:00 PM|
|Tue, Jan 12||Indiana Pacers vs Phoenix||7:00 PM|
|Wed, Jan 13||Indiana Pacers @ Boston||8:00 PM|
|Fri, Jan 15||Indiana Pacers vs Washington||7:00 PM|
|Sun, Jan 17||Indiana Pacers @ Denver||8:00 PM|
|Tue, Jan 19||Indiana Pacers @ Phoenix||9:00 PM|
|Fri, Jan 22||Indiana Pacers @ Golden State||10:30 PM|
|Sat, Jan 23||Indiana Pacers @ Sacramento||10:30 PM|
|Tue, Jan 26||Indiana Pacers vs Los Angeles||7:00 PM|
|Thu, Jan 28||Indiana Pacers vs Atlanta||7:00 PM|
|Sat, Jan 30||Indiana Pacers vs Denver||7:00 PM|
|Mon, Feb 1||Indiana Pacers vs Cleveland||7:00 PM|
|Wed, Feb 3||Indiana Pacers @ Brooklyn||7:30 PM|
|Fri, Feb 5||Indiana Pacers @ Atlanta||7:00 PM|
|Sat, Feb 6||Indiana Pacers vs Detroit||7:00 PM|
|Mon, Feb 8||Indiana Pacers vs Los Angeles||7:00 PM|
|Wed, Feb 10||Indiana Pacers vs Charlotte||7:00 PM|
|Fri, Feb 19||Indiana Pacers @ Oklahoma City||8:00 PM|
|Sun, Feb 21||Indiana Pacers @ Orlando||6:00 PM|
|Mon, Feb 22||Indiana Pacers @ Miami||7:30 PM|
|Wed, Feb 24||Indiana Pacers vs NY Knicks||7:00 PM|
|Fri, Feb 26||Indiana Pacers vs Charlotte||7:00 PM|
|Sun, Feb 28||Indiana Pacers vs Portland||6:00 PM|
|Mon, Feb 29||Indiana Pacers @ Cleveland||7:00 PM|
|Wed, Mar 2||Indiana Pacers @ Milwaukee||8:00 PM|
|Fri, Mar 4||Indiana Pacers @ Charlotte||7:00 PM|
|Sat, Mar 5||Indiana Pacers @ Washington||7:00 PM|
|Mon, Mar 7||Indiana Pacers vs San Antonio||7:00 PM|
|Sat, Mar 12||Indiana Pacers @ Dallas||2:00 PM|
|Sun, Mar 13||Indiana Pacers @ Atlanta||6:00 PM|
|Tue, Mar 15||Indiana Pacers vs Boston||7:00 PM|
|Thu, Mar 17||Indiana Pacers vs Toronto||7:00 PM|
|Sat, Mar 19||Indiana Pacers vs Oklahoma City||7:00 PM|
|Mon, Mar 21||Indiana Pacers vs Philadelphia||7:00 PM|
|Thu, Mar 24||Indiana Pacers vs New Orleans||7:00 PM|
|Sat, Mar 26||Indiana Pacers @ Brooklyn||6:00 PM|
|Sun, Mar 27||Indiana Pacers vs Houston||6:00 PM|
|Tue, Mar 29||Indiana Pacers vs Chicago||7:00 PM|
|Thu, Mar 31||Indiana Pacers vs Orlando||7:00 PM|
|Sat, Apr 2||Indiana Pacers @ Philadelphia||7:30 PM|
|Sun, Apr 3||Indiana Pacers @ NY Knicks||7:30 PM|
|Wed, Apr 6||Indiana Pacers vs Cleveland||7:00 PM|
|Fri, Apr 8||Indiana Pacers @ Toronto||7:30 PM|
|Sun, Apr 10||Indiana Pacers vs Brooklyn||6:00 PM|
|Tue, Apr 12||Indiana Pacers vs NY Knicks||7:00 PM|
|Wed, Apr 13||Indiana Pacers @ Milwaukee||8:00 PM|
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