With some key additions to add depth to a team that had the Miami Heat in a Game 7, the Indiana Pacers are revamping for another chance at facing LeBron & Co. in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
After acquiring Luis Scola, Chris Copeland, and C.J. Watson this summer, the Pacers are heating up along with the rest of the revamped Central Division. And like the East Central, the Pacers have talent all over the board.
After leading the league last year in rebounding, the Pacers have made some key moves to keep it that way, if not improving there efforts on the glass. Re-signing David West and picking up Scola in a trade with the Suns were huge acquisitions that aim to expose the weak post presence of the Miami Heat.
But how do they match up against the Cleveland Cavaliers?
This matchup should prove some exciting games with the potential the inexperienced Cavaliers front court has going against a proven Pacers squad that is hungry for some hardware. The Bynum/Hibbert matchup should be the best center battle in the East. The real question is how the power-forward position performs in this game. The Cavaliers are very young and very quick, while the Pacers have big bangers in the post. If the Cavaliers can force turnovers and get out on the break, they will have the advantage. But one-on-one isolation in the post could prove difficult for the Cavaliers young power-forward unit. Playing Bynum and Anderson Varejao at the same time could qualm the post defense issue, and even provide some offense if Varejao still has the same improved game as he brought at the beginning of last season.
The small-forward position, however, is where the Indiana Pacers have a definite advantage. Returning the injured Danny Granger should prove to be the most critical change for the Pacers lineup, and this is with a Copeland addition that will provide solid a consistent three, solid D and hard work. With the the ability to play along the dynamic Paul George, who can play virtually everywhere, the Pacers are huge presence in size and could clog the lane and cause problems for the pick-and-roll schemes that the Cleveland Cavaliers will implement. While Alonzo Gee is a solid defense presence, I do not believe he has the versatility to compare. I also just don’t see Bennett being able to replicate the level of play guys like George and Granger have due to pure inexperience. But give Bennett a full season under his belt before we hope and dream about what he could be.
The addition of Watson to the Pacers backcourt gives George Hill a consistent and experienced backup. This is very similar to the Cleveland Cavaliers situation with signing Jarrett Jack, giving Kyrie Irving similar support. Jarrett Jack can play combo guard as well, fending for minutes with C.J. Miles and Dion Waiters. And we all know what Kyrie is capable of…enough said. We’ll also see how the young Lance Stephenson rebounds after a solid season.
We will definitely see some exciting games in this series and will have to wait and see about the Cavaliers full roster participating in the matchup.
Paul George may be one of the most dynamic players in the game. (Associated Press)