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Here's How The Indiana Pacers Can Become Future NBA Champions

Congratulations to the Indiana Pacers on a stellar post-season run. But do they have the pieces for a championship run in the future? Here's a recap of the 2023-24 Pacers season and how they can build towards something bigger next season.

A Great NBA Season

The Indiana Pacers went into the NBA season on nobody's radar. Coming off a 35-47 record the previous year, the Indiana Pacers had something to prove this season. With superstar Tyrese Haliburton in the driver's seat, the Pacers were ready to make some noise.


Indiana was never seen as a genuine threat in the Eastern Conference—that is, until the in-season tournament. Going into the inaugural NBA in-season tournament, no one knew what to expect, but no one expected the Indiana Pacers to be a heavy favorite.


The Pacers went undefeated in the in-season tournament until they met the Los Angeles Lakers in the finals and lost. Despite the loss, their fast and exciting style of basketball was on full display. Tyrese Haliburton was also developing into a superstar, averaging 26.7 points, 13.3 assists, and 4.9 rebounds per game in those seven games.


Trade Deadline And End Of The Regular Season

The NBA trade deadline saw a few memorable trades. One of those moves involved sending Bruce Brown, Jordan Nwora, and three first-round picks in return for Pascal Siakam.

Before the trade, Siakam was averaging 22.2 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 4.9 assists per game. Now, the Pacers had a strong number two option to pair with Haliburton. Unfortunately, Haliburton came down with a hamstring strain in the middle of the season, slowing down the Pacers' momentum.


By the end of the season, the Pacers finished sixth in the Eastern Conference with a 47-35 record. The team was first in points per game with 123.3, assists with 30.8, and field goal percentage shooting 50.7%. Indiana was also second in offensive rating with 121.0 and second in pace with 102.2.


NBA Playoffs

Going into the playoffs, the Pacers faced the Milwaukee Bucks, who were missing Giannis due to injury. Damian Lillard also went down with an injury during the series, and the Pacers won in six games.


The next round was a more difficult seven-game series in which the Pacers beat the Knicks. In game five, Indiana beat New York by 31 points, dubbed "The Mother's Day Massacre Part 2." However, it's important to note some Knicks players also battled injuries in this series.


The Pacers managed to set an NBA record for the most efficient playoff game, shooting 67.1% from the field and beating the Knicks by 21 on their home court. These playoffs also saw the emergence of players like Obi Toppin, T.J. McConnell, Aaron Nesmith, and Andrew Nembhard.


Playoff Elimination

Going into the Conference Finals, some were set on the Indiana Pacers beating the Boston Celtics. However, the Celtics swept the Pacers, partly thanks to Indiana blowing three of the four games in the final few minutes.


How Can The Pacers Win A Championship?

Some may call the Indiana Pacers' run this post-season a fluke due to the number of injuries in these playoffs. However, the Pacers have shown in the regular season and playoffs that they can pose an actual threat.


Their only issue is their defense. They finished 24th in defensive rating with 118.0, 27th in total (41.5) and defensive rebounds (31.4), first in opponent field goal percentage with their opponents shooting 49.6%, and fourth in opponent points per game with 120.5.


Their entire game plan is to outscore their opponent. While they should look for another scorer (e.g., someone like Kelly Oubre or Malik Monk to relieve some pressure off Haliburton), the Pacers need to go into free agency looking for a good defensive big to come off the bench and grab rebounds. Having two great defenders in Siakam and Turner is great for the starters, but their bench needs more size.


Nicolas Claxton and Isaiah Hartenstein are two centers going into free agency that could fit well with the Pacers. Both guys are averaging around 7 or 8 rebounds per game, and Claxton is the better defender (averaging 2.1 blocks per game to Hartenstein's 1.1).


Hartenstein brings more energy and is a bigger body to throw at bigs in the paint. Both of these guys are young, so signing them to a three or four-year deal would be great for the Pacers franchise.

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