I think everyone would agree that the Pacers have a chance to win the East. But do the Pacers really have a chance to win it all?
I think this playoff season will tell a great deal about this team because things are finally starting to come together. Tinsley is a capable PG. Foster is a capable C. Oneal and Artest are all-stars, and Reggie can still be explosive. With Bender, Harrington, Jones, Croshere on the bench, they are potentially explosive. And Carlisle does well, as does his coaching staff.
I still worry about the youth of this team, and about the playoff experience outside of Reggie. Teams like the Kings and Lakers have been there plenty of times and know what it takes all the way around. Having the best record, and being hot doesn't mean that they are actually capable of competing for the championship. I sincerely hope that they can get there, but I think it's likely that if they do, they'll be in for an awakening.
The Pacers and Pistons are already proving that East is slowly catching up, and that the West's days are numbered. What I hope, is that after this playoff run, the franchise will consider making the right moves to catapult them to the championship level, which would mean dropping a couple of the young guys for seasoned players in their prime. The Pistons pickup of Rasheed Wallace shows what a good move can do. And I think that in the ECF, after it's all said and done, the Pacers will realize that they need a little more, and that they should take it will one the greatest clutch and three point shooters is wearing a Pacers jersey.
With that said, I think they have a chance, and I would be ecstatic if they made it to the finals. And as I believe in miracles, of course if they got there, with home court advantage, I have to believe they would have a chance.