1. Indiana Pacers
The Pacers were close to extending their playoff streak to six straight seasons, but ultimately fell short in the second play-in game against Washington. Since making back-to-back ECF in 2012 and 2013, the Pacers have failed to win a playoff series despite making five straight postseasons.
The Pacers have a good core led by Domantas Sabonis, Malcolm Brogdon, Myles Turner, and Caris LeVert, meaning they will likely be in the mix for a playoff spot once again this year.
Indiana seems to have avoided starting a rebuild with the recent moves they’ve made. They hired Rick Carlisle and selected Chris Duarte, the oldest player in the draft, and will expect him to make some noise as a rookie.
A shaky start could lead to major changes in Indiana.
If the Pacers feel that they aren’t good enough to compete for a championship, perhaps they could follow the footsteps of the Orlando Magic and trade core pieces in exchange for draft capital. Indiana blowing up the roster could take another playoff contender out of the picture, and could be just what Toronto needs to return to the playoffs.
Even if they decide to keep everything as is, Toronto matches up nicely with them. Indiana showed last year that the Turner-Sabonis duo isn’t as dominant as it could be, and TJ Warren is a complete unknown coming back from injury.
The Raptors have an inside force in Siakam, a score-first point guard in VanVleet, and a young dynamo in Barnes. They can go toe to toe with Indiana, and considering how last year went, it should surprise no one if they came out on top when pitted head-to-head against them.