Indiana Pacers

Tue, 27 Jan 2009 13:00

History of Indiana Pacers

Information about the NBA team Indiana Pacers.

The Indiana Pacers are a National Basketball Association (NBA) franchise that first began playing professional basketball in the American Basketball Association (ABA). The Pacers have been based in Indianapolis, Indiana ever since the team was founded in 1967 as one of the first ABA franchises. The Indiana Pacers franchise was one of the most successful ABA franchises in the history of the league, winning three Division titles, five Conference titles, and three ABA Championship titles. In the Pacers' longer NBA history, they have not been as successful, winning only four Division titles, one Conference title, and zero NBA Championship titles to date. Currently, the team plays its home games at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis and the team colors are gold, navy blue, white, and silver. Two mascots, Boomer and Bowser, currently represents the Indiana Pacers. This article will cover the history of the Indiana Pacers franchise.

Indiana Pacers – an ABA dynasty

The Indiana Pacers joined the ABA as one of the first teams in the league. Playing in the inaugural 1968-67 season, the Pacers placed fifth in the Eastern Division with a decent record of 38-40. The team made it to the Playoffs, but was swept by the Pipers 0-3 in the Division Semifinals. In the following season, the Pacers would make a strong push for the ABA Championship title. The team finished the regular season first in the Eastern Division and made it all the way to the ABA Finals. The team lost to the Oaks in the 1969 ABA Finals in a 1-4 series. The team would come back in the 1970 Playoffs to take the ABA Championship title after beating the Stars 4-2 in the Finals.

The team would continue to dominate in the ABA, leading their Division for the third consecutive season in 1970-71. In 1972 and 1973, the Pacers won back-to-back ABA Championship titles, bringing their total up to three titles. After winning the two consecutive titles, the Pacers went on a slow decline until the last ABA season, which was the 1975-76 season. The Indiana Pacers franchise was one of the four ABA franchises that was absorbed into the NBA with the NBA-ABA merger in 1976.

Indiana Pacers – a slow NBA start

In the Indiana Pacers' first thirteen NBA seasons, they only made it into the NBA Playoffs twice. It was not until the team's fifth season that they would post a winning percentage over 50%, which got them into the 1981 NBA Playoffs. In their first Playoffs appearance, the Pacers were swept 0-2 in the First Round by the Philadelphia 76ers. Two seasons later, the Pacers would have their worst season in franchise history, with a 1981-82 regular season record of 20-62.

The team's record in the following three seasons would not exceed 26 wins, but the team's luck would change in the 1986-87 season. The Pacers would record their second-ever winning percentage of 50% or more and make it to the Playoffs for the second time. Unfortunately, the team would lose in the First Round against the Hawks. After getting knocked out the 1987 Playoffs, the Pacers drafted Reggie Miller, who would become an Indiana Pacers Hall of Famer and an NBA legend.

Indiana Pacers – “Miller Time”

Reggie Miller began his career coming off of the bench for the Indiana Pacers. He mainly filled the role of back-up shooting guard John Long. It was not long before Miller made a name for himself and began to carry the Pacers on his shoulders. The Pacers made it to the Playoffs for the first time with Reggie Miller in 1990. It would mark the first of four consecutive seasons that the Pacers would be knocked-out of the Playoffs in the First Round. Despite their early Playoff losses, Reggie Miller and the team would gain valuable experience from the losses. The team would improve throughout the next seasons until they earned a spot in the NBA Finals.

In the 1994 Playoffs, the Indiana Pacers would finally make it past the First Round and into the NBA Conference Semifinals for the first time. Reggie Miller, who became known as one of the league's best shooters, earned the nicknames “Killer Miller”, for his deadly accuracy, and “Miller Time,” for his ability to take over games in the fourth quarter. The Pacers were able to beat the Hawks in the Conference Semifinals 4-2 and faced the Knicks in the Conference Finals. The team lost to the Knicks 3-4. The team would make it to the 1995 Conference Finals after taking the Division title in the 1994-95 regular season. The Pacers lost to the Orlando Magic and they would struggle in the next two seasons.

The Pacers were eliminated in the First Round of the 1996 Playoffs against the Hawks. After seven consecutive Playoff seasons, the Pacers missed the 1997 Playoffs. They would come back with a vengeance in the following seasons, hoping to win their first Championship title since their back-to-back ABA Championship titles in 1972 and 1973. NBA legend, Larry Bird, took over the head coach role for the Pacers in 1997 and he helped the franchise play their best basketball yet in the NBA. In 1998 and 1999, the Pacers made it back into the Playoffs, but they were eliminated in the Conference Finals both times. In 2000, the team made it to the NBA Finals for the first time ever. They faced Los Angeles Lakers, who beat the Indiana Pacers 4-2 to win the first of three consecutive NBA Championship titles.

Indiana Pacers – after Reggie Miller

In the three seasons between 2000 and 2003, the Pacers were eliminated from the Playoffs in the First Round each season. Then, in the 2004 Playoffs, the Pacers beat the Celtics in the First Round and the Heat in the Conference Semifinals, to face the Detroit Pistons, who beat the Pacers in the Conference Finals. After the 2004 Conference Finals run, the Pacers would slowly decline. The team was eliminated in the 2005 NBA Conference Semifinals and Reggie Miller would retire from professional basketball. The Pacers would not be able to make it past the 2006 NBA Playoffs First Round. In the two most recent seasons of the Pacers, they have been unable to make it to the Playoffs.

In the 2006-07 season, the Pacers placed fourth in the Central Division with a record of 35 wins and 47 losses. One season later, they would only win 36 games and lose a total of 46. As of December 19, 2008, the Indiana Pacers are in fifth place in the Central Division with a record of 9-16. One of the team's star players, Mike Dunleavy, suffered a knee injury before the 2008-09 regular season began. With Dunleavy's injury, the Pacers would lose their star scorer and, to this day, he has not returned in the normal rotation. Some of the players who have been performing well in the 2008-09 season include Troy Murphy, TJ Ford, Marquis Daniels, and Danny Granger. At the rate the Pacers are going, they may miss the Playoffs for the third consecutive season, but, if Dunleavy recovers and the team improves on their record, they may just have a shot at winning the 2009 NBA Championship title.