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Pacers.com Staff Season Predictions

Pacers.com Staff Season Predictions

With the 2013-14 season tipping off tonight, the Pacers.com staff decided to compile predictions for the upcoming season. See who each of us picked to make the playoffs and hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy, as well as our best stab at the yearly awards.

Our esteemed panel:

Mark Montieth, Pacers.com Writer
Scott Agness, Pacers.com Beat Writer
Jeff Tzucker, Pacers.com Editor-in-Chief
Wheat Hotchkiss, Pacers.com Contributor
Manny Randhawa, Pacers.com Contributor

SEASON FORECAST

Eastern Conference

Montieth Agness Tzucker Hotchkiss Randhawa
1. Heat 1. Pacers 1. Bulls 1. Heat 1. Heat
2. Pacers 2. Heat 2. Heat 2. Pacers 2. Pacers
3. Bulls 3. Bulls 3. Pacers 3. Bulls 3. Bulls
4. Nets 4. Nets 4. Nets 4. Nets 4. Nets
5. Wizards 5. Knicks 5. Knicks 5. Pistons 5. Knicks
6. Knicks 6. Wizards 6. Wizards 6. Knicks 6. Hawks
7. Hawks 7. Pistons 7. Cavaliers 7. Wizards 7. Wizards
8. Pistons 8. Cavaliers 8. Raptors 8. Hawks 8. Pistons

Western Conference

Montieth Agness Tzucker Hotchkiss Randhawa
1. Clippers 1. Spurs 1. Spurs 1. Spurs 1. Clippers
2. Thunder 2. Clippers 2. Rockets 2. Thunder 2. Rockets
3. Rockets 3. Thunder 3. Clippers 3. Clippers 3. Spurs
4. Warriors 4. Warriors 4. Warriors 4. Rockets 4. Warriors
5. Spurs 5. Grizzlies 5. Grizzlies 5. Grizzlies 5. Thunder
6. Lakers 6. Rockets 6. Nuggets 6. Warriors 6. Grizzlies
7. Timberwolves 7. Timberwolves 7. Timberwolves 7. Mavericks 7. Mavericks
8. Grizzlies 8. Pelicans 8. Mavericks 8. Trailblazers 8. Lakers

Eastern Conference Finals

Montieth: Miami over Indiana in seven. Indiana has improved more than Miami since last season, but if LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are near full strength they’re still the team to beat. Greg Oden is an X-factor for the Heat. As always, healthiest team wins.

Agness: Pacers over Miami in six. The Pacers face the Heat in the playoffs for the third consecutive time, only this time, they have home-court advantage and top the two-time defending champions. Indianapolis rallies behind their team that’s now just four wins away from an NBA title.

Tzucker: The Pacers, in the order constituted above, would have to go beat the Wiz in Round 1, the Heat in Round 2, and the Bulls in the ECF to make it to the Finals. Given how Rose looks early and the fact we haven’t ousted the Heat in two tries makes me think we’ll beat the Heat (third time’s a charm?) and lose to the Bulls in 6 or 7 games. That stings. I hope I’m wrong. OK, I take it back. Pacers to their second NBA Finals in team history. (Man, we were close last year. SoClose.)

Hotchkiss: Heat over Pacers in 7. If the top 4 seeds advance, this will be the most competitive conference semifinals in the 21st century. Even mighty Miami could be felled in that round. I really need to see these teams play for a few weeks to get a better feel, so I’m going with the two teams who were there last year. Whoever has homecourt will take this series, and unfortunately Miami has the inside track in a less competitive division.

Randhawa: Pacers over Heat in 7

Western Conference Finals

Montieth: Clippers over Houston in six. Doc Rivers knows how to win championships, and should bring out more from Blake Griffin and Deandre Jordan.

Agness: Spurs over Clippers in seven. The Spurs still have a bad taste in their mouth from the 2013 Finals. This is their trio’s last go at a title. Gregg Popovich and his crew get past the transformed Clippers and they’re desperate for the title that slipped away.

Tzucker: This has to depend on OKC’s Russell Westbrook, right? As soon as he went down, OKC’s season went with it. What’s his prognosis again? If Westbrook gets back 100%, then I have to put OKC in there, but I think they’ll need another year to get back to full strength. I love watching the Warriors, but there’s not enough steak in the sizzle to last a whole playoff run. The Clippers? Maybe. New Coach Doc Rivers will make a difference there, but not enough. My prediction based on watching one of the teams play in the preseason: Spurs-Rockets. Rockets in 6.

Hotchkiss: Thunder over Spurs in 6. The Wild, Wild West has six teams that could contend for a Finals berth. A lot of it will come down to matchups and health. I think people are sleeping on OKC. I foresee Durant keeping them afloat for the early part of the season and Russell Westbrook’s return giving them new life heading into the postseason. That duo lifts the Thunder back to the Finals.

Randhawa: Clippers over Warriors in 6

NBA Finals

Montieth: Clippers over Miami in seven. Who knows? But it’s too easy to pick the two-time defending champs. Heat will have to have great health to win it again.

Agness: Pacers over Spurs in seven. The Pacers overcome numerous injuries to Granger and a couple others throughout the regular season. Now in the finals, coach Frank Vogel shows his wits and Paul George takes his game to a new level with every team watching. The aging Spurs are worn down while the Pacers’ depth proves to be as valuable as ever. Roy Hibbert battles against Hall of Famer Tim Duncan, who’s also his mentor, and this time he wins the head-to-head matchup. Owner Herb Simon, wearing his Goldout t-shirt, throws his hands up in the air and smiles wild as the Pacers win the hard fought series to capture their first NBA title.

Tzucker: First off, let me say that if the Pacers, Bulls, or Heat come out of the East, the East will win the title. Since I chose the Pacers, I’ll go Pacers in 7. The Pacers defense will figure out the Rockets, fluster them by getting back on transition defense, and our offense will hop a notch. Yeah, I just said the Pacers will win the Championship. Why not?

Hotchkiss: Thunder over Heat in 7. Durant is going to have a monster season, including carrying the Westbrook-less Thunder through the first half. But the media is going to once again crown King James as the MVP. In the Finals, Durant comes out with a little extra fire and avenges that perceived slight, leading Oklahoma City to an NBA title. Sonics fans weep openly on the streets of Seattle.

Randhawa: Pacers over Clippers in 6

YEARLY AWARDS

MVP

Montieth: LeBron James. He’s the best player in the league, still young, and still motivated, so you have to go with him again.

Agness: LeBron James

Tzucker: LeBron James. He’ll have his best statistical year of his career and they won’t make the Finals.

Hotchkiss: LeBron James – much to Durant’s displeasure

Randhawa: LeBron James

Rookie of the Year

Montieth: Victor Oladipo. Opportunity abounds for him with Magic, and he has the complete game to take advantage.

Agness: Victor Oladipo

Tzucker: Victor Oladipo

Hotchkiss: Dennis Schroder

Randhawa: Victor Oladipo

Coach of the Year

Montieth: Rick Adelman. The winner of this award is usually the one who brings about the most dramatic improvement from his team. Adelman is highly-regarded and the Timberwolves are poised to make a vertical jump in the standings.

Agness: Mark Jackson

Tzucker: Erik Spoelstra

Hotchkiss: Maurice Cheeks

Randhawa: Frank Vogel

Defensive Player of the Year

Montieth: Roy Hibbert. He won’t get to score much, and can therefore funnel his hunger to defense. Earned a national reputation in last season’s playoffs, when Jeff Van Gundy dubbed him “the Great Wall of Hibbert,” and now takes pride in being a stopper in the paint. This award usually goes to a center, and he’s at least as good as the last two winners, Marc Gasol and Tyson Chandler. Dwight Howard will be tough to beat, but voters like to look for someone new.

Agness: Dwight Howard

Tzucker: Dwight Howard

Hotchkiss: Joakim Noah

Randhawa: Dwight Howard

Most Improved Player

Montieth: This is the most difficult award to predict. It always goes to a player who makes a major leap in his scoring average, as former Pacers Jalen Rose, Jermaine O’Neal, Danny Granger and Paul George did when they won it. This year? I’ll go with another former Pacer – for a minute, anyway – Kawhi Leonard. He had a coming-out party in the playoffs, and he’ll have more scoring opportunities as the veterans around him grow gray.

Agness: Harrison Barnes

Hotchkiss: Tobias Harris

Randhawa: Kawhi Leonard

Sixth Man of the Year

Montieth: Another difficult projection, because guys who play really well off the bench usually wind up starting. Harrison Barnes is a good candidate, because he’ll likely back up Andre Iguodala and will score.

Agness: Jamal Crawford

Hotchkiss: Harrison Barnes

Randhawa: Tyreke Evans

All-NBA Teams

Montieth:
1st Team G- Chris Paul, G- Russell Westbrook, F- Kevin Durant, F- LeBron James, C- Dwight Howard
2nd Team G- Kyrie Irving, G- Stephen Curry, F- Paul George, F- Blake Griffin, C- Tim Duncan
3rd Team G- Dwyane Wade, G- James Harden, F- Carmelo Anthony, F- Kevin Love, C- Brook Lopez

Agness:
1st Team G- Chris Paul, G- Derrick Rose, F- Kevin Durant, F- LeBron James, C- Dwight Howard
2nd Team G- Russell Westbrook, G- James Harden, F- Paul George, F- Tim Duncan, C- Brook Lopez
3rd Team G- Tony Parker, G- Stephen Curry, F- Carmelo Anthony, F- Kevin Love, C- Roy Hibbert

Tzucker:
1st Team G- Chris Paul, G- Derrick Rose, F- Kevin Durant, F- LeBron James, C- Dwight Howard

Hotchkiss:
1st Team G- Derrick Rose, G- James Harden, F- Kevin Durant, F- LeBron James, C- Dwight Howard
2nd Team G- Chris Paul, G- Stephen Curry, F- Carmelo Anthony, F- Dirk Nowitzki, C- Marc Gasol
3rd Team G- Tony Parker, G- John Wall, F- Paul George, F- Blake Griffin, C- Brook Lopez

Randhawa:
1st Team G- Chris Paul, G- Derrick Rose, F- Kevin Durant, F- LeBron James, C- Dwight Howard
2nd Team G- Tony Parker, G- Stephen Curry, F- Carmelo Anthony, F- Kevin Love, C- Tim Duncan
3rd Team G- Dwyane Wade, G- James Harden, F- Paul George, F- Blake Griffin, C- Marc Gasol

About The Author

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A not-so-garden-variety, java-like blend of contributors bringing you the latest and greatest general Pacers news behind a veil of relative anonymity.

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