Indiana Pacers

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Indiana Pacers

Established in 1967 as one of the ABA’s original teams, the Pacers found their identity in Indiana’s deep-rooted racing heritage. Under the leadership of Coach Bob Leonard, the team tasted early success, clinching three ABA championships between 1970 and 1973.

The ABA Glory Days

With standout players like Roger Brown and Mel Daniels, and later the addition of George McGinnis, victories were frequent. Upon the ABA-NBA merger in 1976, the Pacers, despite their impressive ABA track record, took time to find their footing.

From NBA Struggles to Reggie Miller’s Era

The Pacers’ initial NBA journey was rocky, experiencing only one winning season in their first 13 years. However, the 1987 drafting of Reggie Miller, soon to be the Pacers’ all-time scoring leader, signaled a change in fortunes. With additions like Rik Smits, playoff berths became consistent by the end of the ’80s.

Under Coach Larry Bird, the team had notable playoff runs in the mid-’90s but was often edged out at the conference finals.

The Elusive NBA Title and Changing Tides

In the 1999-2000 season, the Pacers saw their hard work pay off, reaching the NBA finals. Despite besting long-time rivals, the New York Knicks, in the conference finals, they fell to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Post this season, the Pacers underwent major changes with the departure of stalwarts like Smits and Bird and the arrival of Jermaine O’Neal. While Miller and O’Neal led the team to successive playoff appearances, Miller’s 2005 retirement marked the end of an era. A rebuilding phase ensued, culminating in a playoff return in 2010–11.

Rise of a Younger Brigade and Recent Challenges

A fresh Pacers team emerged, with Paul George and Roy Hibbert at the forefront. Their efforts led to the conference finals in 2012–13, but they faced defeat against the Miami Heat.

The following season, despite a brilliant start, the Pacers were bested by the Heat again in the conference finals. George’s subsequent injury in the off-season was a blow, causing the team to miss the 2014-15 season playoffs.

While the Pacers had some playoff runs, they often found themselves outmatched in the early stages. A significant moment came with George’s trade to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Rebuilding and Resilience

The 2017-18 season saw a rejuvenated Pacers side, surprising many with their performance and narrowly losing in the playoffs. The following season, despite losing key player Victor Oladipo to injury, the Pacers showed grit, ensuring another playoff berth.


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