THE THEORY: The Pacers are just beating up on bad teams
THE PROOF: Miami drills Indiana 118-83
The Pacers started the season 4-1 and had the look of a team that could be flying a bit under the radar. So with a Wednesday night game in Miami the Pacers had a shot to make a statement.
And I guess they did. In the wrong direction though. Indiana might not quite be ready yet.
Blowouts happen in the league a lot. Good teams get ripped, especially on the road against a buzzsaw like th Heat. But this Miami team was missing Dwyane Wade and the Pacers were clearly keyed up at the tip. Dahntay Jones had some misguided quotes before the game about taking the game to the Heat and whatnot. The Pacers saw this as a shot to catch some attention.
Because let's face it, their 4-1 start really wasn't something to get that excited about. Wins over Detroit, Cleveland, New Jersey and Toronto really aren't all that impressive. And the loss was to the Pistons. So there was a big question mark for this Pacers team coming into their game against Miami. Beating teams you're supposed to is the sign of a solid group, but competing against maybe the class of the NBA would go a lot further in telling us where Indiana is at than a win over the Nets or Wizards.
To put it simply: The Pacers got streamrolled. LeBron James just stomped them. Indiana went 1-15 from the floor in the second quarter and turned it over 10 times as Miami outscored them 33-12 and basically ended the game there. By the finish line, Miami was the first team to crack a hundred on Indiana and did it with about eight minutes left in the game for a 35-point win.
Are the Pacers for real? I think it's way too premature to say either way.
Their wins aren't really impressive and their losses are bad, in different ways. But it's early and the Pacers will have a lot more opportunity to make statements soon. In the next two weeks Indiana gets Boston, Philadelphia and Atlanta. They've got some very winnable games still mixed in that batch but the Pacers don't get to just keep feasting on bad or rebuilding teams.
But looking at the East, there's a good chance Indiana could crawl up to No. 5 or 6. The Knicks dropped an ugly game to the Bobcats and the Hawks are still a bit of a question. The class of the conference is clearly the Heat and Bulls, but Indiana could potentially slot itself in that second pack of New York, Atlanta, Orlando and Boston (yes, Boston).
The Pacers performance in Miami definitely didn't make the right kind of statement. It's going to keep most in the camp of thinking they aren't there yet, at least in terms of actually competing with the big boys. David West was a nice addition, but the Pacers are lacking consistent scoring options. Danny Granger is good in spurts, Roy Hibbert sometimes works well in the post and Paul George's 3-point shooting has been nice. But like the opening round series against the Bulls, sometimes the Pacers don't know where to get points from.
It's too early to cross anyone off any list (except for the Wizards and Nets), but the Pacers definitely got a wake-up call from Miami Wednesday. They aren't there yet and really, probably aren't as close as they thought.