All good things must come to an end. For the Indiana Pacers, Sunday marked a bittersweet chapter in their 2017-18 campaign - the last chapter of that campaign in fact. Despite a spirited third-quarter comeback, the team couldn't overcome the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, eliminating them from the playoffs. Right now, a disappointment can sweep over the team's fans. But in the long view, the Pacers season was a success, one hundred times over.

Surprise season

When the 2017-18 season began, expectations for the Pacers were in the gutter, and with good reason.

The team was forced to trade the face of the franchise, Paul George, to the Oklahoma City Thunder, or risk losing him in free agency the following summer. The package they received in return was led by Victor Oladipo, a local college star who had yet to reach his expectations in the NBA. Some suspected Indiana would finish near the bottom of the league standings. But the emergence of Oladipo changed all that. He averaged a career-high in points, rebounds, assists, steals, and three-point shooting percentage. The rest of the team followed suit. A franchise destined for the lottery went 48-34 and earned the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference.

For what it's worth, last year's Pacers team led by George finished 42-40 and finished seventh in the Eastern Conference.

They were then swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers, while this year's version of the team gave LeBron James and company all they could handle in a seven-game fistfight.

Bright future

The Pacers already have the first piece of the puzzle in place for a dynastic run in the Eastern Conference: A franchise player. If anyone doubted Oladipo before this series, they aren't anymore.

He proved the point after the game, with a text message to his trainer leaking to the media, readying himself to get back in the gym just moments after his season came crashing to a halt.

That's the mentality of a franchise player.

Myles Turner is one of the best young big men in basketball. He averaged 12.7 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. He does hit restricted free agency after next season, but the team should prioritize a long-term deal for him. Another piece of the George trade, Domantas Sabonis, emerged as one of the league's best sixth men over the course of the year. Sure, Indiana is still a few pieces away from being championship contenders - nobody is claiming differently. But this year proved that the Pacers are on the rise and they're not going to stop until they reach the top.