You all see the pattern, right?
Remember the lament of this team "collapsing" in the past? It became like clockwork a couple years ago. That is a sign of a team that the opposition does not respect. Teams used to take it easy on the Pacers the first three quarters, then crank up the pressue. ...and we folded.
Now what is happening? This team plays with more force, effort and energy. Perhaps not the most talented bunch, but they do give good effort. The same teams that knew they could crank it up and wipe us out no longer believe that. They are pressing more because we are more competitive.
IOW, teams are actually trying from the get-go. You can see that simply by watching the games, which are...as a result...more enjoyable to watch than the last few years.