Pacer fans looked forward to this current NBA season with more anticipation than any season since 2004-05. So far, the new look Pacers have given them good reason for the enthusiasm.
The anticipation for the season was based on many factors. At the top of the list was the Pacers' first round run in with the Chicago Bulls last spring.
Even though the Pacers limped into the playoffs with a 37-45 record, a midseason coaching change from Jim O'Brien to Frank Vogel seemed to ignite the team. With their first taste of the playoffs in five years, the Pacers battled the top seeded Bulls down to the wire in each game.
The way they pushed the Bulls had their fans eager for more. This was apparently a young team on the rise, and with a few more pieces, they could be a threat in the Eastern Conference.
The front office knew this, and was eager to add to the roster. While they didn't make that huge splash, Larry Bird, David Morway and co. brought in two legitimate veterans - George Hill and David West.
Adding Hill and West to the young core suddenly had this Pacer team imagining not only making the playoffs but possibly taking that next step toward contending.
But there is always that moment of truth when games start being played. Every season comes with great anticipation and high hopes. The real measure of where this team is would come when the games started being played.
Now, 14 games into this shortened season, we can say with confidence, this Pacer team is as good or better than fans hoped it would be. The Pacers just knocked of the Warriors at Golden State to improve to 10-4.
While that record is impressive, consider that 9 of their 14 games have been on the road. The Pacers have done it with balanced scoring and tough, physical defense.
They also sport a talented and aggressive bench, with Tyler Hansbrough and George Hill leading the way.
While there is a long way to go in the season, there is no doubt the Pacers are on the right track.
Keeping the big picture in mind, if you take a snapshot of where this team has come in the last two years, there is plenty of reason for optimism.
Pacer fans don't need to start thinking about an NBA title, but they should be very encouraged by the direction of their young team.