Larry Bird's put together a team that could make a Cinderella-type run to an NBA crown
The Indiana Pacers are feeling better themselves this morning after evening up their opening round playoff series at one game a piece after knocking off the Orlando Magic last night. With the win, the Pacers avoided having to dig out of a deep 0-2 hole and suffer the embarrassment of losing to a Magic team playing without its best player (Dwight Howard).
And believe it or not, there are reasons out there why the Pacers have a chance to win the NBA title in 2012. Here are five of them.
Tyler Hansbrough and the Pacers are one of the younger teams in the league
The Pacers finished up the regular season at 42-24 for the third best record in the Eastern Conference. They boast one of the youngest rosters in the league and will not be as fatigued as most of the other teams in the playoffs that are dragging after playing the compacted 66-game regular season.
Danny Granger (17.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg), Paul George (12.1 ppg, 5.6 rpg), Roy Hibbert (12.8 ppg, 2.0 bpg), David West (12.8 ppg.) and Tyler Hansbrough (9.3 ppg, 4.4 rpg) form a gritty core group of players. That core, led by a bright young coach in Frank Vogel, will not back down from any challenge.
Nothing would make a majority of basketball fans happy than to see LeBron's team knocked out by an undedog like the Pacers
James and the Heat will surely be feeling the pressure of winning a title. Indiana will play carefree and that could mean upset city.
Plus, LeBron throughout his career has always had a tough time when playing against Indiana and Danny Granger.
Derrick Rose going out with an injury will only help the Pacers
Let's assume the other half of the Eastern Conference bracket goes to form. That would mean the Pacers would face either an aging Boston Celtics team or a Chicago Bulls team that doesn't have its best player in Derrick Rose in the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Pacers would have a chance against either of those two clubs in a seven-game series.
The Pacers fans would certainly become unhinged if their team got on a run. Never underestimate the power of a fired up fan base
Pro sports has been crazy over the last year.
Did anyone give the St. Louis Cardinals a chance to win the World Series in September of 2011?
Did anyone pick the New York Giants to win the Super Bowl when they were floundering in November of 2011?
If the Pacers win a series it will likely ignite their fan base and turn Bankers Life Fieldhouse into a nightmare for visiting teams.
Kobe Bryant won his first NBA title against the Pacers in 2000
The Pacers would relish the chance to deny an aging Bryant the chance to win his sixth crown. That's assuming the Lakers come out of the Western Conference.
If the Oklahoma City Thunder emerge, all bets are off.