- NBA Championships: 0
- Last NBA Championship: N/A
- Claim to Fame: The Pacers won three ABA Championships before joining the NBA in 1976.
- Claim to Shame: The Malice at the Palace. Ron Artest charged into the stands at The Palace of Auburn Hills during a 2004 game against the Pistons to attack a fan who had thrown his drink at him. He was later suspended for 86 games.
Big things were expected of the Indiana Pacers when they joined the NBA in 1976. After all, the franchise had won three ABA championships and had been to the ABA Finals five times over a seven-year span.
Unfortunately, the NBA proved to be more competitive than they had anticipated, and they won 40 games or more just once over the next 10 years.
The Pacers finally hit their stride in the late 80’s and early 90’s thanks to an infusion of new talent. All-Stars like Reggie Miller, Jermaine O’Neal, and Antonio Davis combined forces to help them reach the playoffs 16 times over a 17-year span. Indiana appeared in the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history during that period, losing a hard fought six-game series to the Lakers in 2000.
More playoff appearances followed, but expectations in the Hoosier state hit rock bottom in 2017 when Indiana traded leading scorer Paul George to the Thunder for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. Pundits accused Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard of getting fleeced, but he had the last laugh when Indy rattled off 48 wins and nabbed the East’s fifth seed. Oladipo, in particular, was a revelation, averaging 23.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 4.3 assists and winning the NBA’s Most Improved Player award.
The Pacers are hoping to improve upon last year’s surprise finish after adding former Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans, and veteran floor stretcher Doug McDermott. The two players should bolster Indiana’s bench and give Oladipo the support he needs to lead Indiana on a deep playoff run.