Indiana Pacers Are Keeping Pace In The East
Coming into the new season, few people had any expectations from the Indiana Pacers. The franchise had just traded arguably their best player in Paul George to the Oklahoma City Thunder and the young roster under head coach Nate Mcmillan were widely touted to end the season at the bottom of the Eastern Conference.
But so far Indiana has exceeded all expectations. With more than a quarter of the regular season in the books, Indiana stands eighth in the East with a healthy 13-11 record with significant wins against Toronto Raptors, Detroit Pistons, and the Cleveland Cavaliers, all among the best performing teams in the Conference this year.
The biggest surprise in their play this season so far has been their offense. Pacers have looked an energized team on the offensive end playing at a much higher pace and sharing the basketball which has helped some of the new additions to find their way to the basket. Indiana stands sixth in the overall offensive ratings this season as compared to sixteenth last year. A major part of their offense has been the trade acquisitions of Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.
Oladipo clearly had a frustrating time during his stay in Oklahoma City but still showed more than enough to impress the Pacers management, who brought him in to lead the franchise on the court. The guard took little time to establish himself as the focal point of their offense and has put up career-best All-Star numbers across the board this season. (23.1 points per game,44.0% 3-point field goals).
Apart from his scoring, he has also emerged as a facilitator for their pick-and-roll offense that has worked so well this season. Another summer acquisition Domantas Sabonis has given them additional firepower on the offensive end as well as being a strong defensive presence, almost averaging a double-double so far. The addition of Myles Turner to the roster after missing the early part of the season with injury would further strengthen the frontcourt. He would also help in filling up the evident defensive gaps that have largely led to the majority of their defeats so far.
It’s too early to say whether the young Pacers have enough in them to last the rigors of a six-month regular season and reach April in a position to make a playoff run. But with a young leader in Oladipo and a hungry frontcourt pairing of Turner and Sabonis this Indiana team might very well stun a few more of the league’s elite before the regular season ends.