Good Times for Pacers, Fans
At times they looked good. At times they looked ugly. But now they look promising. This is how I would describe the Indiana Pacers and their first full month of play. It was a November to remember that saw the Pacers wrap up their first winning November under head coach Jim O’Brien and their first since 2006.
Although their record stands at 9-8 after Wednesday night’s loss at Utah, it is their recent play that has the Pacer faithful talking. Wins at Miami and in Los Angeles against the Lakers have even gained attention.
If you were like me and tuned into SportsCenter to see highlights of the Pacers’ victories against the Heat and Lakers, you were probably left disappointed. I understand that ESPN loves the Lakers and Heat, but when they lose maybe the majority of the highlights of the game should feature the winning team.
If you were to catch a glimpse of these highlights, you probably would have thought the Lakers had won the game this past Sunday. The only highlight I caught featured four or five Lakers plays and one Pacer play.
The Heat game was not much better. The majority of the highlights featured LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh missing shots and committing errors, and little to do with what the Pacers did that night.
So I’m going to tell you why the Pacers won these games and why they just might make a little noise in the Eastern Conference this season: DEFENSE!
It has been word used over and over but never really accepted over the past few seasons. Finally, however, it looks as if the Pacers have accepted the notion that good defense can really win games. It also helps that Roy Hibbert is the runaway favorite for Most Improved Player and the fact that Darren Collison seems to be the first point guard that O’Brien believes can run his offense.
Team President Larry Bird said it would be a three-year process before this team would truly be back on track. It’s the third year and it looks like Larry Legend was speaking the truth. Yes, it’s early, but if the Pacers can continue playing this type of defense and stay healthy throughout the rest of the season, then no doubt this team will be back in the playoffs.
However, they are young. Inconsistencies will plague them here and there. Take Wednesday night’s game against the Jazz for example. The Pacers came out the gate sluggish and got pounded early. Yes, this will happen some nights with this team.
It won’t always be pretty, but if they believe in their defense and continue to mature, the state of Indiana will be watching some postseason basketball in April.