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For fans of the Indiana Pacers, the excitement is palpable. 

The Pacers are coming off of a season where they showed they were ahead of schedule in their rebuild. Their offense was explosive, and the key contributors were, by and large, young players with what seems like bright futures ahead. They may have missed the playoffs, and their defense often left a lot to be desired, but the signs were there.  

Fast forward to now, with the start of the Pacers season finally here, and fans are eager to see this team in action. They want to see the stars from last year, like Tyrese Haliburton, Bennedict Mathurin, and others take that next step. They also want to see what new pieces like Jarace Walker, Ben Sheppard and Obi Toppin can add to an already fun group. 

What a difference a year can make. 

At the start of last season, the hype surrounding the team was at a minimum. The Pacers had gone out of their way to tell fans that it would be a rebuilding year. To expect far more losses than wins. Fans largely understood; after years of mediocrity, something had to change, but that doesn’t mean they were particularly excited to see the Pacers play. Watching a losing team, even if the losing year could be a good thing in the long run, is never much fun. 

Now though? There is excitement, and with excitement comes expectations. Fans around Indiana are desperate for a winner, and they think they might have one with this team. Should Indiana start slow, the disappointment will sting more than it has in years past. Of course, on a national level the Pacers may still not be getting the respect or attention that they deserve, but that won’t last if they start the year off hot. Indiana won’t be able to sneak up on people for long, though I don’t think fans would be too upset to lose the moniker of “underdog”. 

They just want a winner. Now we get to see if they finally have one. 

During Wednesday’s edition of The Ride With JMV, Evan Sidery, who covers the Pacers on Forbes and Substack, spoke to John about the expectations for the Pacers this year. 

“I think 45 wins is what my baseline is going to be this year. I think they’re a 45 to 46 win team, health dependent. I think if Tyrese Haliburton misses time that does change the equation an awful lot. As we saw last year the offense without Haliburton in the lineup is a lot different, it’s probably too much to overcome, but if Haliburton can stay healthy, if Myles Turner can stay healthy as their rim protector, and you can stay relatively healthy all across the roster, with guys like Nembhard and Hield and the rest of them, I think this is a legitimate surprise team in the NBA this year.” 

Listen to JMV’s full conversation with Evan Sidery and more below, and tune into The Ride With JMV weekdays from 3-6pm on 93.5/107.5 The Fan! 

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