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After an unusual season and a vacation shorter than ever,  the Pacers are back at their old ways to try to improve the role of the previous season. The Indiana road was full of ups and downs. The first big news was the definitive explosion of  Domantas Sabonis who, for the first time in her career, participated in the  All-Star Game. With a solid block, the Pacers were enjoying a  more than remarkable Regular Season, until the stoppage and the Orlando Bubble arrived, which was a nightmare for the Indianapolis team.

At Disney, the Pacers were left without Sabonis -injured- and Victor Oladipo, who decided not to participate to end his physical problems. The only positive note was the emergence of TJ Warren, who was one of the great surprises of the final leg of the competition. Despite finishing in 4th place (45-28), the Pacers were unable to compete in the First Round of the Playoffs against the Miami Heat, who swept them on the fast track (0-4). A terrible ending that ended up meaning the dismissal of Nate McMillan only 14 days after his renewal and after being in charge of the team for four seasons.  

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Important Novelties And Decreases

Same block, new coach. With this simplicity, we can summarize the summer of the Pacers, who have not raised their heads since Larry Bird left the presidency in the summer of 2017. A constant I want and cannot that has been repeated over the last few seasons, where the team has always given sparks of hope to finally stay halfway. And precisely for this reason, Chan Buchanan, GM of Indiana, has decided that the transition had to go through the bench.

Thus, the main movement of the Pacers has been the firing of Nate McMillan for the subsequent arrival of Nate Bjorkgren. A risky bet a priori, since it will be his first experience as a coach of an NBA franchise, but one that brings exactly what the team needed: fresh air. A new way of working for a young, consolidated team with players who still have room for improvement ahead.

Retaining Victor Oladipo after the multiple transfer rumors and the renewal of Justin Holiday for 3 seasons and 18.1 million has been the highlight of the franchise in free agency, which only has two new faces: Jalen Lecque and rookie Cassius Stanley, on a dual contract.

Star And Second Sword

Domantas Sabonis, A Silent Leader

After his first season as All-Star, Domantas Sabonis, son of the mythical Arvydas, presents himself as the great leader of the team. A player who does not stand out for being a great scorer, but who dominates every facet of the game. A tenacious rebounder, with good movements in both the low and high post, an increasingly reliable shot, and an unusual view of the game in tall men like him. An all-rounder whose greatest virtue is intelligence -what the NBA calls IQ-. In his fourth season in Indianapolis and only 24 years old, the Lithuanian is the cornerstone of the project and the great hope of Pacers fans. He ended the 2019-2020 campaign averaging18'5 points, 12'4 rebounds, and 5 assists in 34 minutes deputies.

Oladipo, With An Eye For Injuries

If injuries respect him, Victor Oladipo is a decisive player on both sides of the court. After staying after the many rumors surrounding his departure, the guard may be the differential factor for the Pacers, that piece that can allow them to go one step further. If we see the Oladipo from 2017-18 again, we are talking about a real star, although his physique is a great unknown. But the Maryland man is far from alone accompanying Sabonis. TJ Warren or Malcolm Brogdon, fundamental in the rotation, are two other names to consider.

Coach And Playstyle

This season we will see Pacers very different from those we have seen so far. With Nate McMillan, the team was characterized by a very solid defensive game system and betting on a very slow game rhythm, with longer possessions. Last season it was the franchise that shot the fewest out of three in the entire NBA, averaging 28 attempts per game. But everything indicates that, with the arrival of Nate Bjorkgren, his way of playing may change. As a coach from the same school as Nick Nurse he has been his assistant until now-, Bjorkgren will bet on a system much more adaptable to the current characteristics of the NBA: much higher rhythm, quick transitions, great ball circulation, and more. open shooting situations. We'll see how players adapt to such an obvious change.

Objectives And Forecast 

With how well the Atlanta Hawks have strengthened in this free agency, the arrival of Russell Westbrook in Washington, or the jump in quality of the Nets with the recovery of Kevin Durant, the Eastern Playoffs will be much more expensive than in previous seasons. But, by roster and conditions, the goal of the Pacers this season must be yes or yes to finish the Regular Season in the top eight of the Conference. And beyond? Everything will depend on the level of Oladipo and the mark that Bjorkgren can leave in the team. But franchises like the Heat, Celtics, Nets, Bucks, Raptors and even 76ers seem, for now, to be a notch above. Dreaming is free, although everything indicates that being much more ambitious will be difficult. We will see how far they are capable of going.