I'm all in with this Pacer team. After the year we had, it would have been silly not to bring back our starting five. We may have had to overpay a little to keep them together, but we really can't even say that for sure yet-- we've never seen George Hill as a starting PG for an entire season, and it's entirely possible that Roy Hibbert could mature into the contract he just earned. Most importantly, our guys have developed into a really strong unit. Our unquestionably improved bench has me confident that the Pacers will at least match what they accomplished last year, if not more.
The rest of the world, though, is weary of any team that doesn't have a player comfortable with jacking up twenty-five shots a game a la Carmelo Anthony. This isn't anything new, but Bill Simmons already has the Pacers pegged as a perennial sixth seed- the new Atlanta Hawks. In the same article (http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/8182319/game-nba-thrones-part-ii), he endorses the Boston Celtics as contenders to knock off the Heat as they "extended their relevance" in resigning Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
Perhaps I'm biased, but it seems to me that the Pacers are not only better than the Celtics, but that they're obviously better. The Celtics are completely dependent on the aging knees of Kevin Garnett and the streakiness of Paul Pierce's shot (that completely disappeared for long stretches last season). The only point I'm willing to concede is that the Celtics perhaps did better in free agency, by virtue of being in a large market and not because of any particular prowess in their front office.
Assuming this is his objective opinion as a sports writer, which is probably a mistake, what teams could he possibly have as being better than the Pacers? Heat, Celtics, and then... who? the Nets? Bulls? Cavs??? Is our belief that the second seed is possible as misinformed as Bill Simmons?