It’s no secret the Miami Heat are the cream of the crop, not only in the NBA, but also in the Eastern Conference. The two-time defending champs are the team the 29 other squads in the league will try to knock from the mountaintop this season to try and keep them from winning three straight titles.
But in the East, there has been a debate on who is the conferences second-best team after Miami? Well, according to ESPN, it’s not the Chicago Bulls, but the Indiana Pacers.
In their summer forecast series prediction on the final conference standings, Indiana was picked to place second behind Miami, with Chicago checking in at No. 3.
The decision to give the Pacers the nod over the Bulls obviously stems from Indiana pushing Miami to the brink of elimination in last seasons seven-game series in the Eastern Conference Finals, along with the ever-improving Paul George, the return of Danny Granger, and the acquisition of Luis Scola in free agency, just to name a few.
It would seem that not even the return of Derrick Rose to the Bulls lineup is enough to give Chicago an edge over Indiana in a conference that just might be the toughest in the NBA. But it’s good that debates like this aren’t settled on paper, but on the basketball court.
Yes, the Pacers are a much better team than they were prior to Rose going down with his injury. But as long as he’s been healthy, the Bulls have had no trouble with the Pacers who, technically speaking, don’t really have a superstar – at least not the caliber of D. Rose – and that makes all the difference in the world.