NBA 2013-14: Do the Indiana Pacers have what it takes to dethrone Miami Heat?

Yash Matange
Modified 06 Mar 2014

LeBron James, Miami Heat superstar and currently the best player on the planet.

Most analysts and educated fans across the globe would agree that fatigue, injuries and loss of motivation are the key adversaries that two-time defending champions Miami Heat would have to face in their bid to complete a three-peat this June.

With the roster prior to the season remaining almost similar to last year and the current best player on the planet LeBron James as their leader, many predict that the Heat would face stiff competition but would finish as the best team in the league once again en route to winning their third consecutive Larry O’Brien trophy.

That stiff competition for the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals would likely come against the Indiana Pacers, and in the NBA Finals, against the Western Conference Champions; the Western Conference, of course, is a place where all the top five teams have the potential of ending as table-toppers.

Predictions for the Western Conference Champions can differ from writer to writer and from one analyst to another so that’s better left alone to be seen during the last week of May. On the other hand, in the East, it took all but two weeks into the season for many educated basketball viewers to conclude that the regular season was a just a formality as only the Heat and Pacers looked worthy of competing in the East Finals.

The trade window came to a close less than a week ago and the Pacers made a catch on the last day while there was no activity by Pat Riley’s office. The nature of their trades has left no doubt that the Pacers are not thinking long-term but are looking to give it their best shot at the title this season.

So how would the Pacers fare against the Heat if and when they meet in the Conference Finals? Where do they have an advantage against the defending champions? An analysis of the Pacers’ roster and their trades over the off-season and the just concluded trade window should help you decide whether to put your money on the contenders.

Defence will go up by more than a notch with their loaded front court

Roy Hibbert and David West start from the loaded front court of the Indiana Pacers

The Pacers were built to go head-to-head with the Miami Heat. The team is loaded in the area which is considered the Heat’s weakness- size and length.

Their front court is led by 7 foot 2 inch dominant center and All-Star Roy Hibbert and powerful post player David West in the starting line-up. Hibbert’s back-up 6-11 center Ian Mahinmi has reliable help in the front court off the bench in Luis Scola, who was acquired during the summer.

This front court foursome has a back-up in Andrew Bynum, not among the most reliable and efficient centers; nevertheless, he has the size and length which the Pacers are building around to go against the Heat.

Stopping penetration into the lane and using their vertical to block shots or alter shots without sending their opponents to the free throw line is how the front court contributes to the Pacers’ league-leading defence.

In Lance Stephenson and Paul George they have the best perimeter defending duo in the league. Their athletic presence allows them to lock down on shooters or make the opponents drive right into the center waiting in the paint during pick and roll.

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Published 25 Feb 2014
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