During the 2017-18 NBA season, one of the most surprising teams in the entire NBA were the Indiana Pacers. The Pacers barely made the playoffs in the prior season and ended up trading Paul George to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Due to the loss of George, many people expected that the Pacers would take a big step back.
While the Pacers traded George, they actually ended up getting much better during the recent season. The Pacers ended up finishing with a final record of 48 wins and 34 losses, which was good enough for second place in their division and just 2 games behind the Cleveland Cavaliers. Once they were in the playoffs, the Pacers took the Cavaliers to Game 7 of the first round of the playoffs, which they ultimately lost.
While the Pacers were knocked out early in the playoffs, there is plenty of reason for optimism. During the season, Victor Oladipo continued to improve and now looks like he could be an All-NBA player for years to come. While the Pacers should be happy with their improvement this past season, there is still plenty of room for improvements.
One of the main ways that they will improve is by making some big offseason moves. There are a variety of players that they could target through trades or free agency (https://8points9seconds.com/2018/05/16/pacers-trade-candidates-otto-porter/). One player rumored to be coming to the Pacers is guard Otto Porter who was with Washington last year. Porter would give the team another great weapon on the offensive side of the court.
NBA fans in the state of Indiana have not had a lot to get excited about in recent years. However, that is set to change. It was just announced that the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis will host its first NBA All-Star game in 2021. There had been rumors circulating for quite some time that Indiana might be awarded the All-Star game from the NBA. However, nothing was made official until recently. It has been a very long time since Indiana last hosted an NBA All-Star game. That was way back in 1985 when it was held in the old Hoosier Dome.
The Indiana Pacers have played very well this season. They have been one of the surprise stories in the NBA. So NBA fans in Indiana can feel good for two reasons. It is a very big deal for a city to be awarded the All-Star game in a major sport. It creates a big boost for the local economy in the weeks leading up to the event. Local restaurants and hotels can benefit greatly from all the additional people coming to town. Unfortunately, 2012 is still a very long time from now.
The governor of Indiana and the mayor of Indianapolis both said a few weeks ago that they were hopeful about the NBA All-Star game being awarded to the city. However, both were cautiously optimistic when they were asked if they thought it would really happen. Both said there are a lot of politics involved in that sort of decision.
Indianapolis has developed a reputation for being one of the best cities in the Midwest to host big sporting events. The city did an excellent job with the Super Bowl in 2012 and the Final Four in 2015. The attendance records set two years ago helped Indianapolis land another Final Four in 2021. City officials just learned today that they will be hosting another huge event that same year. The NBA has officially announced that the 2021 All-Star game will be held in Indianapolis.
This will be the first time that the Indiana Pacers get to host the NBA All-Star game since 1985. Many experts expected the prestigious game to get awarded to the city of Cleveland, but the NBA clearly wanted to reward the passionate Pacers fans. The beautiful new renovations to Bankers Life Fieldhouse and the city’s reputation as an excellent event destination certainly did not hurt either.
The Pacers front office worked tirelessly over the last few years to get this honor. The team sent several members of staff to the All-Star games in Toronto and New Orleans the last two years to improve their pitch to the NBA. They also had Larry Bird officially announce the Pacers’ desire to host the game by driving a race car to the NBA headquarters earlier this year.
The exact date of the game has not been announced, but the NBA traditionally holds the All-Star game in mid-February. In addition to the game, Indianapolis will also get to host the celebrity game, dunk contest and several other exciting events during the same weekend.
Oklahoma City Forward and former Pacers star, Paul George, will be making his first return to Indianapolis since he was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder during the offseason. Despite the fact that he was traded, George is not expecting a warm welcome from his former hometown fans due to his acrimonious split with the team.
Halfway through last season, George informed the team that he didn’t plan to remain with them for the rest of his career. Disappointed, the team began to shop him around to other teams in a possible trade scenario. George publicly asking to be traded diminished his value on the trade market because opposing franchises knew that the Pacers had to get rid of him, leading to a deal with Oklahoma City that many experts thought was well below market value for the Pacers.
George spent seven seasons in Indiana, leading the team to two Eastern Conference Finals. He averaged 18.2 points a game along with just over six rebounds and three assists per game during his time as a Pacer. He is certainly the most successful player to wear that uniform since Reggie Miller. George was one of the most popular players in the history of the franchise.
Despite his popularity and success with the team, George and his Thunder teammates do not expect a warm welcome when they take the court in Indianapolis on Wednesday. The Pacers fanbase is loyal to their team and the fans will be sure to let number 13 know that he is no longer welcome. It will interesting to see how both teams perform in this homecoming for the four-time All-Star.
On Wednesday night, the Indiana Hoosiers faced off against the top basketball team in the country for their ACC/Big Ten Challenge matchup: the Duke Blue Devils. Duke was coming in at 8-0, having just beaten the No. 7 team in the country, the Florida Gators. Indiana, meanwhile, has had its ups and downs already in a few short weeks of the 2017-18 season. A great showing against Duke would turn things in the right direction.
The Hoosiers got just that, albeit in a losing effort. The game was back and forth for most of the first half. The two teams were tied at 34 with just over four minutes remaining before the break. Duke ended the half on a mini 8-4 run to take a 42-38 lead into the locker room.
In the second half, Indiana held tough yet again. It was arguably the best game this team has played all year. The bar is kind of low in that regard. This was the team’s second game against an opponent of note. In the first, it lost handily at Seton Hall. Playing Duke even for close to 40 minutes is something to hang your hat on.
The game was tied at 75 with five minutes remaining before Duke made another mini run to close the game out. It was something to build on though. Indiana shot over 50 percent from the floor against the top team in the nation. Tightening up small spots will have this team where it wants to be.