I've been wanting to do this for quite some time.
When I look at the Pacers 15-13 record, I can't help but be proud of their results to date when compared to some of the teams ahead of them namely the Celtics, Magic and Pistons for example. Many fans are disappointed with this team, but I see things a bit differently than most. If I could post a side-by-side comparison of these three team's schedules perhaps you'd see what I see. But since I can't, I'll just have to tell you 'bout it using an inter-divisional rival as an example.
For starters, the Pacers had 9 back-to-back games from the start of the regular season through 23 December compared to the Pistons who had only 6. Both team had 14 road games, however, the Piston had a stretch of 5 road games in between November 11-18. Their reward, however, was 4 home games in a row for the rest of the month. The longest home stretch for the Pacers thus far all season has been 2 games and most of those have been tied to a back-to-back series where the Pacers would be home for one game then on the road for the next or visa versa. Suffice it to say, my boyz have done a lot of travelling during this young season.
For the games ahead beginning 26 December through mid-February 2008, the Pacers and Pistons share similar schedules. Both teams having games on the same days from 26 Dec to 4 Jan. The only difference to this point is the Pistons have one more road (4) game than the Pacers (3). Another interesting similarity in their schedules is that both team go on the road from approximately 4/5-13 Jan and again from 19/21-23/26 Jan. The difference is that for the Pacers' first road trip of the new year, all games are against teams from the West Coast while only two of the Pistons' games during this same period are against teams from out West. As for the second set of road games between 19-26 Jan, the Pacers have (4) w/one back-to-back set while the Pistons have (3) road games and none are back-to-back. Moreover, the Pistons will have 4-days off between their game on 25 Jan against the Magic and their game on 29 Jan against the Pacers @ the Fieldhouse, whereas the Pacers will only have 3-days off between their game against the Heat on 26 Jan and their game agaisnt the Pistson. And that's just through 29 January!
Between 29 January and 5 February, the Pacers' next four games are at home. The Pistons will also have a home stand; however, it spans (5) games from 31 January to 10 February. And did I mention that for the month of February, the Pacers will have 4 sets of back-to-backs compared to the Pistons' two? Now, to be fair the Pistons will end February and go into early March with 7 of their first 6 games to start the month on the road, but they only have 6 sets of back-to-backs through 7 March. After that, the Pistons' next (5) games are at home through 18 March. On the other hand, while the Pacers will only have (4) road games in February, they'll pay for it through mid-March with 6 sets of back-to-backs through 15 March. Their longest home stand through 21 March will be only (3) games.
The rest of the season eases up for the Pacers beginning 26 March. Every game from then on out will be against teams in the East, and they'll have at least one day off between games throughout. The Pistons will fair about the same except they'll have 3 sets of back-to-backs from 26 March until the end of the season and they'll still face one more team from out West - the Suns.
So, while some Pacers fans may be down on my boyz, I think they've done a fine job to date based on the difficulty in their schedule. You local fans had better recognize! For this team to be 15-13 at this point and competing as they have is remarkable. For those who think I haven't gone far enough to illustrate how tough the Pacers have it, I urge you to do your own comparison between the Pacers and Celtics for example, or the Cavs, or the Magic. Perhaps then you'll see what I see and be more willing to give this team some slack.