Apr 21, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers starting five (L-R) forward David West (21), guard George Hill (3), forward Paul George (24), center Roy Hibbert (55), and guard Lance Stephenson (1) watch from the bench against the Atlanta Hawks during game one of the first round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana defeats Atlanta 107-90. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Which NBA Playoff Teams Will Take A Step Back?

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Change occurs every year in the NBA, especially in the playoffs.  Which teams are in store for a pitfall from last season?

Indiana Pacers:  Lance Stephenson loss looming large

Everybody felt with the Bulls losing Derrick Rose last season that the way was clear for the Indiana Pacers to take their shot at the Miami Heat without interference.  They locked up the #1 seed and boasted one of the best defenses in the NBA with Paul George leading the way.  Then they seemed to lose momentum heading into the playoffs.  Though they reached the Eastern Conference Finals, it was clear they weren’t the same team that started the season so high in confidence.  Miami dismissed them in six games and they subsequently lost key guard Lance Stephenson in free agency.  While still a good team, it’s clear the Pacers are due to lose steam.

Houston Rockets:  Trevor Ariza won’t replace Chandler Parsons

Towards the end of last season it was clear the Houston Rockets were a team ready to take it to the next level.  Featuring star tandem of James Harden and Dwight Howard, all it seemed they needed was one more solid piece for the team to be ready for a run.  NBA free agency looked like their ticket with names like Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh representing ideal solutions.  Instead the winds changed direction and not only did the Rockets fail to land either player, they also ended up losing talented young forward Chandler Parsons to Dallas.  As a result they were quick to sign veteran Trevor Ariza to replace him, believing his ability as a defender will cover for the loss in offensive firepower.  Truth be told, Ariza is pushing 30 and is unlikely to elevate Houston any higher than they were last season.

Brooklyn Nets:  Paul Pierce exit leaves sinking team even worse

Credit ownership of the Brooklyn Nets for taking a major swing for the fences.  Unfortunately their blockbuster deals of last off-season likely came a few years too late.  Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett aren’t the same players they once were and it showed in the playoffs.  Now Pierce has departed for Washington and the status of Garnett is uncertain, ranging from trade talks to staying behind as a team leader.  No matter how one looks at it, there is nothing about the state of the Nets that suggests they will do any better in 2014-2015, or even if they’ll make the playoffs at all.

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Tags: Indiana Pacers Lance Stephenson Nba Paul Pierce Trevor Ariza

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