The not very Dark Horse of the East

Coming into the 2017-2018 NBA season nobody would’ve thought the Pacers were going to give LeBron and the Cavaliers a 7 game series. In most ways, the Pacers were better than the Cavaliers. In fact, the Pacers won the total series against the Cavaliers by a score of 704-664, and at times looked much better than the Cavs. Within their three wins, the Pacers won by a combined score of 311-257. Sadly, the Pacers lost four games by a score of 393-407. Even though the Pacers lost the series, fans still came away confident that they would be competitive again the next season.

LeBron James and Victor Oladipo
Getty Images

At the beginning of free-agency season a lot of Pacers faithful were hoping for a big free agent to come to Indiana, well, this isn’t likely to happen. However, the Pacers have quietly had a tremendous offseason. The biggest help is coming with Tyreke Evans. Evans averaged 19, 5, and 5 last year for the Grizzlies and shot 45% from the field and 40% from three. Tyreke will be a wonderful addition to the Pacers no matter how they use him. Alleviating some of the ball handling pressure that Oladipo has had to take on will be a big help in particular. Let’s not forget the additions of McDermott and O’Quinn as well. Though losing Lance Stephenson, the Pacers seem to have strengthened their roster heading into the next NBA season.

Where does this leave the Pacers in the East? It would be hard to put them on the level of the Celtics, Raptors, and 76ers, but they could get there if these few things happen. First, the growth and performance of Myles Turner this year is absolutely key. Turner has been good, but hasn’t been what people thought he could be. In fact, his numbers in almost every single category dropped this past season. This could be attributed to some of the injuries Turner has suffered, so staying healthy next season is crucial. If Turner can stay healthy and put up the best numbers of his career, then the Pacers will be in good shape. Next, Oladipo has to build off of his most improved player season. If last year was a fluke from Oladipo, the Pacers will tank. Thankfully, I think it’s very unlikely that it was a fluke, and can see him having an even better year next year.

Myles Turner
USA Today Sports

The Pacers again have some uncertainty coming into this next season. If Myles Turner and Victor Oladipo can both improve on their numbers from last season, then we are looking at the Pacers being a legitimate contender for the Eastern Conference championship. Some would say they’re a dark horse in the east, but they shouldn’t be. The Pacers shocked everyone last year and took the Cavs to 7. They’ve only gotten stronger this offseason so it shouldn’t come as a surprise to many if the Pacers compete for the new King of the East.


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