There’s not much to complain about with the way the Pacers went about business in this first part of the season. With a record of 21-12 and sitting in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, that is a sign this team has come around from the years of being out of the playoffs and not looked at as a contending and even at times competitive team. It just took a couple of new additions, a new coach, guys playing together more, and a renewed sense to get this team to where they are now.
That’s not to say things couldn’t be better because there are improvements this team can make. How about learning how to play with Miami? Miami has looked ridiculous against the Pacers, and they have to figure out how to stop or at least compete with that team if the Pacers went to have any credibility as being a contender in the East. The Pacers have two chances left to play Miami in the regular season, but they’ve already lost two games in this series that haven’t even been that competitive. That’s something the Pacers need to fix.
Also, the slow starts aren’t helping the Pacers cause in some games. Games like last night against the Bobcats don’t matter if you finish well. But getting off to a slow start against the Bulls, a top team, could really defeat this team’s confidence level.
Speaking of that, this Pacers team when they are on their game plays with such an aura of confidence, it is amazing to watch. But if they don’t have that confidence, it’s like a whole other team is playing. They need to approach each and every game with a bit of swagger. We’ve already seen a couple of instances when teams have mentioned this idea, such as Derek Rose saying the Pacers celebrated too much after a win. Also, Kevin Love said the Pacers “took pills to get up”, whatever that means. To me, that means that teams don’t know how to play against a tough minded team, and I love hearing that the Pacers are having that type of reputation.
Looking at the big picture, this team is in a great position to finish well in the Eastern Conference. There’s probably no chance of getting up to the top seeds, but finishing third would give the Pacers home court advantage in that first round, and that would be great. It would get the fans energized to have a home playoff series and to be up there as high as this team realistically should be. Look for the Pacers to make some statements in this second half of the season.