Quiet but steady growth continues for Indiana Pacers
When the NBA season started, a lot was expected of the Pacers. Victor Oladipo’s amazingly good 2017/2018 campaign which got him a seat on the All-Star table came as a surprise.
With progress comes an increase in expectations. A deep run into the playoffs has been mooted as the minimum requirement.
They have started well enough with 7 wins and 5 losses in the 12 matches played so far. The trade which saw Paul George join Oklahoma City Thunder and Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis join was seen as a long-term building project for one of the league’s less stellar names.
However, few people foresaw that the team would be in such a strong position so early on. The presence of two quality young centers (all below 25) in Sabonis and Myles Turner has been a boon. This has contributed hugely to the team’s points scoring (.583).
One criticism of the team would be their indifferent form at home; 3 wins and 3 losses in 6 games. With teams like the Atalanta Hawks and Orlando Magic looking like they could still put a run together, head coach Nate McMillan has work to do if the Bankers Life Fieldhouse is to become a fortress.
The Pacers have continued to improve defensively
Last season, the team had one of the most consistent lineups in the entire league. It usually went like this: Oladipo, Thaddeus Young, Turner, Darren Collison, and Bojan Bogdanovic. The continuing improvement of Sabonis has been an added benefit with rotation with Turner helping to keep the team fresh and hungry.
Despite Oladipo’s All-Star selection last season, the team lacks big names/star power compared to the Eastern Conference’s big hitters like the Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors and the Milwaukee Bucks.
However, what they lack in star power, they make up for in team effort. The Pacers hunt in packs with everyone committed to the same goals. They have been great at forcing turnovers and capitalising on them quickly. The good job which the team did last season in keeping opponents off the free throw lines has continued.
With Cleveland Cavaliers turned to whipping boys and others like the Miami Heat struggling, the Pacers could sneak into the playoffs as a seeded team.