Freakish Numbers And I Don’t Mean That Dirty Number 8 by Eric Maroun
Is it an obscure number? Yes. However, 985.97 was a crucial number to the Pacers season last year. 985.97 was partially responsible for the run that Indiana made in the playoffs which died out shortly following them taking a 2-1 series lead on the Chris Bosh-less Miami Heat. Most importantly, it’s a number that is most likely not repeatable in the 2012-13 season. So what does it represent?
Per BasketballValue.com, The Pacers main starting lineup of Darren Collison, Paul George, Danny Granger, David West, and Roy Hibbert were on the floor together for 985.97 regular season minutes last year, by far the most common lineup put out on the court by any team in the league. For comparison’s sake, here are the next four most common lineups:
- PHX: Steve Nash, Grant Hill, Jared Dudley, Channing Frye, Marcin Gortat – 744.88 minutes
- LAC: Chris Paul, Randy Foye, Caron Butler, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan – 648.20 minutes
- OKC: Russell Westbrook, Thabo Sefolosha, Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins – 610.27 minutes
- MIA: Mario Chalmers, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Joel Anthony – 516.95 minutes
What does it mean? It means that the Pacers were ridiculously, unbelievably, unfathomably healthy last season. All five players mentioned played in at least 60 regular season games with George and West appearing in all 66 regular season contests and Hibbert checking in for 65 of them. While the Pacers are the sexy pick to win the Central Division due to competing with young Pistons and Cavs teams, a still-at-least-a-year-away Bucks team, and Derrick Rose-less for half the year Bulls squad, wondering if they can match last year’s success is a valid concern.
Darren Collison was traded away for Ian Mahinmi, leaving George Hill as the starting point guard on the team. Hill played in 50 games last year, with most of the games he missed coming due to a stress fracture he suffered in his ankle. David West is still less than two years removed from a devastating ACL tear in his left knee that he sustained while in New Orleans, which is always a concern. And Roy Hibbert, despite a clean bill of health thus far during his four year career, did not get any smaller in the offseason meaning he will once again be putting about 280 pounds of stress on that 7’2” frame of his. While this is obviously not a guarantee of an injury for the big man, it’s at the very least a recipe for one in the future.
Basketball, maybe more than any other sport, is a game built on familiarity with those on your team. Being able to anticipate where a teammate’s shot is going to miss so you can be in position for the rebound, knowing when someone is going to make a backdoor cut so you can time your pass correctly, and consistently feeding a three-point shooter in the perfect spot to allow him to catch and shoot in one fluid motion is what separates the average teams from the good teams and the good from the great. While duplicating their healthy 2011-12 campaign is unlikely, I suppose it’s possible. The Pacers better hope so; the success of their season may be riding on it.