The Indiana Pacers have stared down the Miami Heat for two straight regular and postseasons. Yet they've been the ones to blink both times.
Still, the young Pacers keep stepping up for more. Their fabulously cohesive starting five welcomes back a now-healthy near-star: Danny Granger. More importantly, their Achilles-heel bench has been bolstered in a big way with the arrivals of Luis Scola, CJ Watson, Chris Copeland and Solomon Hill.
With Paul George, Roy Hibbert, David West, Lance Stephenson and George Hill, Indiana has perfected their "bully ball" style in the post and defensively to combat Miami's fleet-footed attack. Yet, the Pacers' plan will no longer be unique in their conference or even their division.
Will the Chicago Bulls' return, courtesy of Derrick Rose's comeback, cancel out Indiana's dominance in the Central Division or the playoffs? Will the Brooklyn Nets also be tough enough to encroach on the Pacers' perceived monopoly?
We look at the best and worst of the Pacers' offseason, along with the biggest questions heading into 2014. We'll also detail Indiana's keys to a successful year while predicting its final position in the standings.