The Indiana Pacers' Main Objective: Secure Home Court Throughout the NBA Playoffs
The advantage of possessing home court is crucial, especially within the NBA realm.
As a player, you feed off the crowd's energy. Additionally, you're more comfortable because usually, as a player, you have a routine and that routine is severely disrupted whenever you go on the road. Even more importantly, you're familiar with the shooting background.
There is no disputing what the Indiana Pacers are aiming to do during this 2013-2014 NBA season.
Lock up home court throughout the playoffs and defend Banker's Life Fieldhouse with every ounce of energy they can possibly exert.
So far, their objective is working. At 19-3, the Pacers not only have the best record in the Eastern Conference but in the entire NBA.
As an NBA enthusiast, I can see how serious the Pacers' mission is. Given how the Miami Heat owned the home-court advantage last year in their highly contested seven-game Eastern Conference Finals showdown, the Pacers are trying to make sure that doesn't happen again this year. They want Miami to come to their house with the intention of beating them instead of the other way around.
I certainly don't disagree with this approach. Given the upgrade with their rotation during the offseason, the Pacers are more deep and determined this year. They can certainly bang with Miami, given the progress Roy Hibbert has made and continues to make along with the offseason acquisition of Luis Scola. CJ Watson is a true point guard and can be a major factor off the bench when George Hill needs a breather. Lance Stephenson has made a major leap in terms of his on-court contributions this year. His all-around improvement and willingness to defend astounds me for a player once thought of as selfish.
Remember his 'choking incident' in reference to Lebron last year? Well, it seems like he certainly intends to step up his game in order to contest anything Miami throws his way.
Paul George has become a star in his own right. Not only has his offensive game improved, but his defense remains just as stellar and suffocating as it's always been. He's now taking the big shot instead of fading during crunch time. That certainly reflects a newfound sense of confidence.
Indiana's roster is up for the challenge that Miami will pose. What it will ultimately boil down to is this: Are the Pacers mentally and physically capable of beating the defending champions in a seven-game series?
With the home-court advantage and a confident, significantly improved roster, they certainly have all the right pieces to unseat Miami and compete for an NBA Championship.
Still, Lebron & Co might have something to say about that once playoff time comes around.