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As NBA fans are already aware, the Indiana Pacers have risen from the ashes and become one of the favorites to win the 2013-2014 NBA Title.

But will the Pacers be able to take the next step and become NBA Champions this season? Here are four reasons the Pacers will surpass everyone’s expectations by winning a title this June.

1. Paul George

Since the 2013 NBA Playoffs, Paul George has become a household name in the NBA. Many fans recognize George for his scoring and clutch shooting vs. the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Some also identify George as a stellar defender who could change the pace of the game with one steal or block.

But what’s most impressive about George is his Player Efficiency Rating. This rating, created by ESPN’s John Hollinger, measures a player’s overall contributions. In fact, George already ranks third in the NBA out of all small forwards with a 25.92 rating.

This rating helps define how successful the Pacers will be this year because of George’s two-way abilities. If he’s able to continue making an impact on both sides of the ball, the sky is the limit for the Pacers during this season and beyond.

2. Defense

Although George is a stellar defender, the overall defense of the Indiana Pacers is what makes them the team to beat this season.

The best way to understand the stingy Pacers defense is to view their Defensive Efficiency Rating. As points out, the Pacers lead the NBA with a 94.7 rating.

This is a big statistic because defense is what ultimately separates average teams from the cream of the crop. At the professional level, every team could put up numbers, but many teams could play defense as successfully as Indiana has over the past two seasons.

Therefore, if Indiana continues to play defense at a high level, then they should not have any trouble reaching and winning the NBA Finals this time around.

3. Bench Upgrade

The lack of productivity from the Pacers bench last season definitely prevented the Pacers from defeating the Miami Heat last season, but the same problem does not occur now.

During this past offseason, the Pacers have acquired productive NBA veterans, such as Luis Scola, C.J. Watson, and sharpshooter Chris Copeland.

One of the knocks on Indiana last season was their poor outside shooting. Copeland should alleviate this issue. Last season, Copeland shot 48% from three-point land for the Knicks last season.

If Copeland could continue his accurate shooting, in addition to Scola and Watson providing a strong low-post/jump-shot tandem, then the Pacers bench will be able to match (and even surpass) the Miami Heat in overall depth.

4. Danny Granger

Now some may say that the Pacers are better off without Danny Granger. After all, the Pacers hit their stride in the playoffs once Granger became injured last season.

However, his presence is necessary for the Pacers to make the next step.

Although George is a great scorer, the Pacers need another star in order to win an NBA title. Granger is just the man to fit the bill.

If one looks at many of the recent NBA Champions, you’ll notice a consistent one-two punch. The Lakers championship teams of the last decade have featured the combinations of Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol.

The Chicago Bulls championship teams of the 1990s featured the deadly combination of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen.

Clearly, this is the recipe for success. Once Granger returns to the Pacers lineup in the next coming weeks, the club will have a dynamic star who will take some of the attention and pressure off of George.

NBA: JAN 09 Pacers at Lakers

As a result, the Pacers will have a young and powerful two-headed machine.

The Miami Heat may be viewed in the eyes of many as the favorites to the win the 2013-2014 NBA Championship, which is justified because the Heat have been to the past three NBA Finals and are the two-time defending NBA Champions..

What gets lost in the NBA shuffle is the constant improvement of the Indiana Pacers.

The Pacers have already started off the season with an 11-1 record, yet they continue to fly under the radar of fans, pundits and the NBA community.

The Pacers have four critical components that are necessary for a championship and they are my pick to win the 2013-2014 NBA title.

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