I started a thread a clutch city (Rockets board- very knowledgeable fans there) asking if they thought the Pacers were legitimate title contenders.
my exact post:
"Do you view the Pacers as a threat to win the NBA title?
As of this moment, they have the best record in the NBA. They are on track to win 61 games, and have a favorable schedule down the stretch, since they have more home games then road games to play, and have taken their toughest road trips. 62 or 63 wins seems a possibility.
Besides that, they have BY FAR the best winning percentage of all teams in the NBA in games AGAINST the western conference (18-6, 0.750). They have not relied solely upon feasting upon the weak sisters of the East.
Unlike any Eastern team in recent years, they may secure home court in the finals, should they get there. They are potentially the first Eastern Conference finals team in a while to have at their core a committment to tough defense and rebounding.
They have no top 5 player, but arguably Jermaine O'Neal is top 10, and Artest is probably top 20. They probably have the best depth in the league, with in essence a 6th starter in Al Harrington and a blend of youth and experience in Bender, Kenny Anderson, Anthony Johnson, Freddie Jones, etc.
Pacer fans feel they are being ignored, when outlets like ESPN erroniously state that the Kings have the best record in the league, and commentators like Legler say they wouldn't finish in the top 5 in the West, ignoring the fact that they are never blown out by any of the western elite teams, and in fact have a stellar record AGAINST these teams, both home and away.
What's your honest opinion? Especially if they secure home court advantage in the finals, would it surprise you to see the Pacers win an NBA championship?"
somewhat to my surprise, only one guy has said "no Eastern team has any chance" and another said no because they have no player in the argument for best in the game, and no team since Detroit has won without the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd best in the league in his prime.
Most say the Pacers are a force.
This shows some respect, though certainly no fear (I think only the fully healthy Lakers can be feared)