Amazing to me that only once have the pacers finished better than .500 on the road and in 2000 they were only 20-21 on the road.
Q. I saw in the league standings that the only teams with winning road records this season are New Jersey, Indiana, Sacramento, Minnesota, and San Antonio. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this list includes all of the divisional leaders and the teams with the four best records in basketball. I also saw that the Pacers 17th road win surpasses their total for all of last season. What are the Pacers doing differently in their approach to road games this season? Does it have to do with their patient offense, tenacious defense, preparation, and/or something mental? How does their road record this season compare to the season they went to the Finals? (From Ben in Fishers, IN)
A. Here’s some perspective on the team’s road record (17-9, tied with Minnesota for the best in the league): the Pacers have finished with a winning record on the road just once in their NBA history (26-15 in 1997-98). The season they went to the NBA Finals (1999-00), the Pacers were 20-21 away from Conseco Fieldhouse.
And last season, of course, they were 16-25 (after losing 12 of their final 15). The difference has been a combination of factors.
The style of play implemented by Coach Rick Carlisle and his staff is much more conducive to winning on the road, because it is based on consistently tight defense and efficient offense. In other words, it’s a disciplined, tough-minded style that not only translates well to the road, but should be more effective in the playoffs because the players have become accustomed to grinding out victories in unfavorable circumstances.
There has been a tighter ship in terms of discipline, as well. Players aren’t allowed to be late without some form of punishment. Not to single out Jamaal Tinsley, but as recent examples, he twice was removed from the starting lineup because he was late either for a practice or the game-day shootaround. On top of it all is the fact the players are all a year older and wiser about how to handle the rigors and temptations of the road. When they get on the team plane, they understand they’re taking a business trip. And they’ve done a very good job of closing the deal.