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Why the Pacers will win the NBA Championship next year
Of course not. Best record in the East till the Artest meltdown. Coach fired because 3rd in the East and a first round loss was considered unacceptable given the team's record, and Carlisle had already won CotY with his insta-fix of Detroit 2 years prior.
Losing Miller hurt, but they were still supposed to be better than the year before. That's what firing Isiah said to the world.
This year's team looks to be facing the same issues as last year. Nice team, going to be fun to root for, but I couldn't put real money (even) down on them making the Finals or even the ECF. To me they have to be 5 or 6-1 to make the ECF alone.
I will be very pleased with a repeat of last season or something along those lines. I'm hoping for a push into the ECF, but that's on the shoulders of Roy, Danny, West, Paul and George who each need to improve for various reasons. Roy, Paul and George are supposed to be developing, Danny is supposed to be getting his game back on track after JOB and the terrible shooting to start last year, and West is supposed to be showing improvements with more time past his surgery. Otherwise this roster did not get more talented in a noticeable way, even if the bench pieces seem more interesting.
Don't get me wrong, I love replacing DC for DJ (love that kid), Green for Jones (young and athletic), and Sam Young for Barbosa (Young was my "trade down and get him" draft choice back then). Maybe Mahimi is the difference maker over Lou.