Pacers have been doubted all year. But they believed.

2017 Pacers Media Day.

Squad. 2017-18.

The Pacers’ belief in their talents, belief in each other is nothing new.

They knew.

It goes all the way back to September, before the season when they first started hanging around one another, on and off the court. There were six players returning, just two starters, from last year’s 42-40 team that was swept in the first round by Cleveland. It wasn’t a bad group or a clash of personalities, they just didn’t mesh.

Most were in by September, at the latest. Bojan Bogdanovic finished playing in EuroBasket with Croatia, and Victor Oladipo dedicated his offseason to altering his body and mind with personal trainers in Miami.

(Players seriously talked about working down in Miami together, but that never materialized.)

Lance Stephenson felt it during offseason conditioning. During sprints one day inside the St. Vincent Center, their gorgeous new $50 million practice facility, players had to run down and back five times. By the last one, he wasn’t confident that he would cross the finish line.

“I couldn’t get it,” Stephenson explained. “They all waited for me and were pushing me through it. It was tough but we all had each other’s back and I felt like we was a unit after that.

“They didn’t want to finish until I got across.”

Glenn Robinson III, who was entering his third season with the team, felt it off the court. Like when they ran stairs as a group at the Indiana World War Memorial. Or how on September 20th, The Weeknd performed at Bankers Life Fieldhouse with Gucci Mane and Nav and the majority of the team was there — together.

Myles Turner, the longest-tenured player on the team felt it in the building.

“The energy, man,” he said on September 20th, at the organization’s annual golf outing. “The energy is just different in the building, it’s so much more positive. The energy is incredible. That’s one thing I love.”

This was all before the official start of the basketball season, which annual begins with media day. On that day, September 25, they were a confident group ready to shock the world.

And once camp started…

Lance Stephenson: “Everybody’s doubting us right now because we lost Paul. But I feel like we got a group of guys that wants to win and (is) very hungry and they have a lot to prove. Not just me, the whole team has a lot to prove — and we’re going to show ’em.”

Darren Collison: “I think a lot of people have us projected out of the playoffs. Ain’t no way to start of the season better. That’s motivation for everybody to get together in a training camp and go hard to prove people wrong. It’s fun proving people wrong.”

St. Vincent Center, Pacers, We Are One

Pacers’ We Are One motto at The St. Vincent Center.

Thad Young: “We’re going to play hard each and every night. We’re going to continue to fight, and we’re going to be there for one another. We’re going to be a family. As it says on the wall up there, we are one. We have to prove and show that each and every day.”

Myles Turner: “Guys are hungry, man. This group is very hungry. … Everybody just competes. The energy just boils over to one another. Once you see one guy doing it, you kind of want to match that intensity or go even harder. It’s refreshing to have that in this gym.”

Cory Joseph: “We got a lot of guys that are hungry, hungry for the opportunity and playing with a chip on their shoulder.”

After appearing on national TV just once, winning 48 games, and grabbing the fifth seed in the East, the Pacers are still relatively unknown nationally. And that, too, can change by winning a series or two this postseason.

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