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Even though a quick look at their record may not show it, the Indiana Pacers are finally giving fans something to cheer about this season.
The team currently has a 9-9 record, which is still good enough to be only half a game behind the Chicago Bulls in the Central Division.
So far, the biggest difference between this Pacers team and last years is the road record. Having played only 18 games into the season, the team has won a total of five road games. During the entire 2009-2010 season, the Pacers won only nine total road games.
Two of this year’s road wins came against two of the toughest teams in the entire league. On Nov. 22, the Pacers beat the Miami Heat by a score of 93-77. Just six days later the team went to Los Angeles and held on to beat the Lakers 95-92.
The team has also had some impressive victories at home, including an offensive powered 144-113 win over the Denver Nuggets on Nov. 9. The Pacers scored 54 points in the third quarter alone, including hitting 20 shots in a row in the quarter. Due to the offensive effort in the game, the Pacers finally made some positive national headlines.
The team has also managed a degree of consistency this season.
According to ESPN.com, the Pacers are scoring an average of 99.4 points a game and are third in the league in rebounding.
By trading for Darren Collison over the offseason, the team seems to have finally found a solid point guard. Collison has been averaging 13.7 points and 4.4 assists per game. T.J. Ford has also been successful at the position, giving the Pacers more depth.
Danny Granger, who many point out as the team leader, has been playing very well while averaging 21.4 points per game. Center Roy Hibbert has also put up big numbers this season as he has been averaging 15.6 points and 8.8 rebounds per game.
The fact that there is not a focus on one single player may be the best reason for the success of the Pacers. Five players have been averaging double figures in points this season, allowing for a balanced approach to the game.
This balance also seems to be helping out with team chemistry, something that has been lacking the last couple of years. The players have been showing plenty of emotion, both on the court and while cheering on teammates on the bench.
The excitement of the players seems to be translating to the fans. Message boards have been filled with fans praising this year’s team. The faithful discuss how their allegiance to the team is finally paying off while those who turned away discuss how they are finally looking forward to returning to Conseco Fieldhouse to watch the team in action.
After wrapping up a four-game West Coast Trip Friday night, the Pacers will return home to play the Toronto Raptors Monday at 7:00 p.m.