The Pacers have had the best record in the NBA all season long, even with this less than stellar streak they have going on right now. Still winning the majority of their games, the Pacers haven’t looked as dominant as they did early in the season. When watching the Pacers for the majority of 2014, the word lackadaisical comes to mind. Many call it the “dog days” of the NBA season. So I ask, are the Pacers bored?
Look, we know when this team is on, they can beat any team. I said it five games in, this team should win it all. I still believe that. What this team was showing at the start of the season was a ridiculous level of play. What makes this team so dangerous is how great of a cohesive unit they are. They aren’t built like the stars in Miami. It takes a high level of focus and commitment for this team to play at their absolute best. Something we haven’t seen from them recently.
How many teams are true contenders this year? In the East its only Indiana and Miami. Out West, the question is a bit more difficult. OKC obviously. I was questioning the Spurs, but that beatdown of Miami has me feeling dumb. Then you have the newcomers which we have yet to see playoff success from in LAC, Portland and Houston. As good as Portland is, they aren’t winning it all this year. The Doc Rivers led Clippers seem to be real. Houston has kicked it up a notch since 2014 hit and look more dangerous.
So that makes six contenders in my opinion. Which leaves the Pacers with five teams to provide adequate competition. The only team the Pacers haven’t beaten in that group is OKC. Swept LAC, split with Miami so far, 1-0 vs the Spurs and Houston. Now I ask, when was the last time the Pacers have played any of these five teams?
January 18th, vs the Clippers. Which the Pacers won in an absolute stomp. When was the previous meeting against any of those teams? December 20th against Houston, a 33 point victory for the Pacers.
We had our most ridiculous stretch of basketball, schedule wise when we played these five teams six times in ten games. We went 4-2 in that stretch against them. Four of those games were on the road, including both losses, at OKC and at Miami.
Tonight we play Houston. Our first game against an elite team in nearly two months. Pau Gasol talked about it after we destroyed the Lakers. The best teams don’t try their best every game. It was what, 8 minutes in the Lakers game that won the game for the Pacers?
Quite frankly our schedule has been kind of a joke since December. Now you can say, well then we should be winning at a much higher rate. I don’t disagree. We should. But, when you are aspiring to be the best, you want to play the best. The East is absolute garbage. There is no competition for the Pacers outside of Miami. We’ve played the majority of the elite Western Conference teams already.
Lackadaisical. Our schedule hasn’t been conducive to letting the Pacers even show the best basketball. At the start of the season, it was about sending a message. The Indiana Pacers are here to win the NBA Championship. That message was received by everybody. And its still there, even as they aren’t playing at that “elite” level. 4-2 when you play the six best teams in the league in a matter of ten games is impressive. That is still who this team is. Competition brings out the best in competitors. And quite frankly, since that December stretch, the competition just hasn’t been there for the Pacers. Its just been the East… In an 82 game season, this just happens. You aren’t going to see the most inspiring basketball when you are facing the bottom of the barrel for months.
In the Pacers last 21 games, they play the elite teams five times. And play good teams another five times. So the schedule is picking up. Which I believe will be a very good thing. And it starts tonight, with Houston, the team with the best record since 2014. Lackadaisical basketball will not beat them. The boredom of the schedule is ending. The playoffs are nearing. The competition is returning. Which means in my opinion, the product on the court should be improving.