Welcome Back, Indiana Pacers

Welcome back, NBA.

And welcome back, Indiana Pacers.

The early-morning agreement Nov. 26 between the league and the players’ union ensures the highest level of professional basketball will be played — albeit under a shortened schedule.

The great news for the Pacers — one of the NBA’s small-market franchises — is that this tentative collective bargaining agreement, which will give players roughly 51.2 percent of basketball-related revenue, will allow teams from any market to be competitive in free agency and, by extension, on the basketball court.

It’s been way too long, folks. Let’s get to examining what the Pacers can do before the condensed season commences and what kind of team they’ll be in 2011-12.

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Indiana Pacers Make Draft-Night Trade for Hometown Product George Hill

The Indiana Pacers made a huge splash for their organization and for their city’s fan base Thursday at the NBA Draft.

The Pacers traded the rights to the No. 15 pick, which turned out to be San Diego State’s Kawhi Leonard, as well as the rights to the No. 42 pick (Davis Bertans) and 2005 pick Erazem Lorbek, to the San Antonio Spurs in exchange for Indianapolis native George Hill, a Broad Ripple High School and IUPUI product.

Needless to say, Indiana and its local fans are thrilled about this pick, and they should be.

By Drew Allen

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Indiana Pacers Playoff Primer: Round 1 vs. Chicago Bulls

The time has come.

The moment for which the Indiana Pacers and their fan base have been waiting five years arrives today at 1 p.m. with Game 1 of the team’s first-round playoff series against the Chicago Bulls, the Eastern Conference’s top seed, at United Center.

While just making the playoffs, particularly with a season record of 37-45, is a fine accomplishment in itself, the Pacers have a tremendous opportunity in front of them. If Indiana is competitive each night — certainly within the realm of possibility — it can take significant steps forward in reviving the “passion” and “pride,” so to speak, in and around Indianapolis. We’re going to take a look at the matchups and how the Pacers can go about doing that.

By Drew Allen

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Welcome Back to the NBA Playoffs, Indiana Pacers

Fans in Area 55 weren’t going to be left out in the cold.

The rowdiest spectators in Conseco Fieldhouse remained in the Roy Hibbert-sponsored section well after the final buzzer of the Indiana Pacers’ 136-112 rout of the Washington Wizards to watch the final minutes of the Orlando Magic’s overtime victory against the Charlotte Bobcats on the arena’s jumbo screen.

And sure enough, those fans were the first to know their team had clinched its first berth in the NBA playoffs since the 2005-06 season.

By Drew Allen

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Indiana Pacers Are Four Wins Away from Playoffs

The Indiana Pacers finally seem to recognize the opportunity in front of them.

Now 35-42 after three straight wins with five games remaining in the regular season, the Pacers lead the Charlotte Bobcats by two games (and essentially three games with the season head-to-head tiebreak) for the eighth and final playoff spot in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. Four wins secures Indiana’s first trip to the postseason since Danny Granger’s rookie year in 2005-06.

By Drew Allen

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Are Indiana Pacers in Relapse?

Well, so much for the newfound optimism under Frank Vogel.

After starting 9-3 under the interim coach, the Indiana Pacers have lost seven of their last eight games, including five straight in which the team never realistically threatened for the win. Three of those defeats came by 17 or more points.

The most recent loss, a 101-75 thrashing Wednesday at the hands of the Minnesota Timberwolves (who at the time owned the worst record in the Western Conference), was arguably Indiana’s worst effort all season. Forward Danny Granger finished 2-of-19 with 10 points, and center Roy Hibbert didn’t score at all.

By Drew Allen

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What Failed O.J. Mayo Trade Means for Indiana Pacers

Who’s to blame?

Who is responsible for the no-go on a trade that would have sent Memphis Grizzlies guard O.J. Mayo to the Indiana Pacers in exchange for forward Josh McRoberts and Indiana’s first-round pick?

Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley blamed the Pacers, reportedly saying they took too much time trying to organize a concurrent deal that would have sent guard Brandon Rush to the New Orleans Hornets.

The Pacers argued that Memphis pulled out of the deal at the last minute.

Whoever is at fault, the deal didn’t get done.

By Drew Allen

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Indiana Pacers Fire Jim O’Brien; More Change on the Way?

The Indiana Pacers fired coach Jim O’Brien on Sunday midway through the fourth year of O’Brien’s contract and named assistant Frank Vogel interim coach for the rest of 2010-11.

O’Brien went 121-169 as Pacers coach and began this season 17-27 before being relieved of his duties.

The first thing to take away from Sunday’s news is that the Pacers are doing the right thing in parting ways with O’Brien. He wasn’t getting it done at a point in his contract when Indiana should be a solid playoff contender in a weak Eastern Conference. I’ll have more on that later, but O’Brien’s dismissal presents an opportunity for the Pacers to start fresh.

The question is, is it just the first one?

By Drew Allen

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Indiana Pacers, Right Behind the Bulls in the Central Division

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Yes, the standings are correct.

Despite a 97-95 loss Wednesday to the division rival Milwaukee Bucks at the Bradley Center, the Indiana Pacers find themselves in second place in the Central division with a 10-10 record just past the one-month mark of the 2010-11 NBA season.

Granted, the Pacers have been only slightly outside the neighborhood of a .500 team during coach Jim O’Brien’s tenure, but you get the feeling there’s something different about this squad.

By Drew Allen

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