Heading into the postseason, there are plenty of reasons for why many pundits believe that the Indiana Pacers have a chance to be one of the true players in this year's playoffs.
Sure, Danny Granger will not be in attendance, Roy Hibbert has clearly taken a step backwards and this team tends to rely too much on their perimeter game, something that can be difficult on teams in the playoffs.
But this is one of the top defensive teams in the league. Their bench is crazy deep, and Paul George has emerged as one of the top young wings in the NBA.
Yet those aren't the main reasons why the Pacers could emerge as one of the best teams in this year's playoffs.
David West is the key to the postseason success of the Indiana Pacers.
Easy buckets are essential
In the playoffs,teams are too often pushed out into the perimeter and forced to take difficult shots.
As someone that has covered the Eastern Conference for years, the annals of history are littered with jump-shooting teams that couldn't cut the mustard.
Teams like the New York Knicks, Milwaukee Bucks and even the Pacers of the last decade saw their postseason chances crushed when they weren't able to get the easy hoops and were forced to take jumpers.
Even the Detroit Pistons, a team that actually won the title in 2004, saw a run of Eastern Conference Finals end in disappointment when they couldn't get easy buckets.
That is why it is so crucial that the Pacers do their best to incorporate David West into their offensive mix.
West is the one true post-scoring threats that the Pacers possess and arguably the best post-scoring power forward in the conference.
West opens up so many aspects of the Pacers offense when he is knocking down shots.
Look at the season numbers of this team when West is rolling.
Against some of the top Eastern Conference teams, West's numbers are what jump out.
Against the Brooklyn Nets, West is averaging 20 points and seven boards.
Against the Chicago Bulls, West is averaging 23.3 points and over eight boards.
And against the defending champion Miami Heat, West is scorching the nets with nearly 23 points and seven boards.
He has shown that he can dominate those teams, which is going to be the key for this team going forward.
Other potential sparks
The Pacers have the benefit of having a very deep squad. They have good backups at nearly every position and the breakout seasons from Lance Stephenson and George have more than made up for the disappointments of Roy Hibbert and Granger.
Tyler Hansbrough has the type of energy and nose for the ball that could make him a potential stud in any postseason game.
Hibbert has clearly regressed, but even he can be a game-changer in the postseason with his tremendous size and defensive prowess.
And George Hill has the pedigree of a champion due to his years with San Antonio.
But teams are going to be keying on George and Stephenson, trying to eliminate the up-tempo game those two can produce in the blink of an eye.
That is why it is so crucial for West to provide the spark that this team needs offensively.
West flourishes in the low post. He is averaging 53 percent inside the paint. Just outside, West is nearly equally efficient at the next level, hitting over 46 percent of his mid-range jumpers.
That type of efficiency is much needed when buckets are tough to come by in the playoffs.
Chances are good that the Pacers will be able to utilize West. Over his career, he averages over 15 points per game during the playoffs. That includes seven games as a rookie when he was an afterthought of the New Orleans Hornets' offense.
The big stage isn't too big for West.
The Pacers will likely have a very good postseason. They are one of the best defensive teams in the league and are fantastically deep.
But the true key to their playoff hopes is West.
And he is likely to deliver.
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