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As a member of the Central Division of the NBA’s Eastern Conference, the Indiana Pacers routinely make trouble for their opponents with their tireless blue collar work ethic. Originally an ABA team, Indy made the jump to the NBA in 1976 after nine seasons and is still in search of their first NBA Championship.
A powerhouse in the ABA, the Pacers won three championships in consecutive seasons. In nine seasons in the ABA, Indiana appeared in the finals five times. This success, however, did not follow them to their new league. In fact, the Pacers only posted two winning seasons in their first 13 years in the NBA, with two brief playoff appearances.
A lack of chemistry and continuity along with a number of poor management moves kept the team from being able to grow. This would begin to change in 1987 when Indiana used their 11th overall pick in the NBA Draft to select Reggie Miller from UCLA. Though the team continued to struggle for a few more years, with Miller in place the Pacers had a foundation around which to build a formidable team. Chuck Person, Michael Williams, Detlef Schrempf, Pooh Richardson, and Sam Mitchell all contributed to bring the Pacers to the playoffs. The Pacers made the playoffs after the 1989-90 season and started a seven year streak of postseason appearances. After missing in 1996-97, they would make go on the make the postseason nine years in a row. Mark Jackson, Jalen Rose, and Al Harrington played major roles on these teams.
Reggie Miller personified Indiana Pacers basketball with his unending desire to win and his signature heroics that brought this team to new heights. Sports and pop culture would collide as movie director Spike Lee, a famous New York Knicks fan, taunted Miller in the playoffs from his courtside seats. This exchange caused Miller to take out his frustrations on the Knicks who were powerless to stop him. Another incident involving Lee was the catalyst for Miller to score 8 points in the final 16.4 seconds of a playoff game to bring Indiana an improbable victory.
The Pacers would make it all the way to the NBA Finals in 2000, but would fall in six games to Los Angeles. A period of change was underway with new coaching and roster turnover, but the organization continued to make the playoffs. Reggie Miller would retire at the end of the 2005 season.
Indiana would begin to fall from grace as legitimate title contenders to a sub .500 team. Despite some great play from both Danny Granger and Mike Dunleavy, the Pacers could not bring themselves back to the playoffs. This changed, however, when Indiana drafted Paul George in 2010. Adding him to the roster brought the enough star power to send the Pacers back to the playoffs, making it to the Conference Finals both in 2013 and 2014. He was traded to Oklahoma City in 2017.
Today’s squad features talent in Thaddeus Young, Bojan Bogdanovic, Myles Turner, Wesley Matthews, and Darren Collison. They have put together an impressive seasons and are playoff bound. Could this be the year when Indy finally goes all the way? Head coach Nate McMillan is doing all he can to prepare his players for a grueling postseason tournament.
Some of the greatest players in Indiana Pacers team history include Paul George, Jermaine O’Neal, George McGnnis, Rik Smits, Mark Jackson, Danny Granger, Jalen Rose, Chris Mullin, and Reggie Miller. Click here for additional information about the Indiana Pacers.