April 1, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Indiana Pacers small forward Paul George (24) reacts with shooting guard Lance Stephenson (1) during a time out against the Los Angeles Clippers during the second half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Indiana Pacers Complete Not So Perfect Road Trip


April 1, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert (55) controls the ball against the defense of Los Angeles Clippers center Ryan Hollins (15) during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Four games on the road out west.  Four straight wins out there on the road.  Five straight wins overall.  Magic number of two to clinch the division.  Enough numbers for you?  How about one more?  19-19…the road record for the Indiana Pacers as it’s finally right at .500.  Ultimately in the playoffs, you have to win on the road.  To really do something special, you have to win on the road, and finally the Pacers are showing that they can do.  Especially if you consider how last night’s game unfolded.  I stayed awake through all of it, and with good reason.

This game started out and went so well for about three or even into that fourth quarter.  But there were small lapses that had me worried.  The Los Angeles Clippers are a good team this season, and they are right there ready to clinch their own division.  But the Pacers just came out as a house on fire, and really played the way that they play when they’re extra motivated.  Motivated enough to win out this last game on the road, and finish 4-0 on a Western road trip, which doesn’t happen that often.  Sure 3-1 happened earlier this year, but to go perfect and really look good in each game, that doesn’t happen.  Last night’s game the Pacers looked really good until the Clippers started making their run, and doing it with bench players.  That was practically the story of how the Chicago Bulls beat the Pacers. But that’s a whole other story.  This one also includes a zone defense that the Pacers had NO idea how to handle.

Now the local radio broadcast had mentioned a few times, well the Pacers should know how to handle the zone. I contend with why would they know that? How many times do you see  a zone defense in the NBA?  This Pacers team isn’t built to play well against the zone either. I mean they have some inside presence, and can dish it out for an open shot.  But not many guys will hit that open shot that often.  Therefore, the zone defense is probably a great way to play the Pacers. But I bet the Pacers look into some zone offense as to not let last night happen again.  But the biggest thing is the Pacers got that win.

How about Roy Hibbert, once again coming up like the Hibbert we remember last year?  Whatever is clicking, it’s clicking just at the right time.  Last night he goes perfect in the first half shooting the ball.  And that was shooting as he hit two or three shots around the free throw line.  He gets 26 points and 10 rebounds before fouling out.  When he’s got it going, you just know he’s ready to make an impact for this team.  Last night was an example of that. Plus he was out the previous meeting of the Clippers and Pacers, so I believe that was some motivation for him to really make a difference.

Now the Pacers can focus on the next two games, and win out so they can clinch up the division.  While Friday night will not be an easy task against the Oklahoma City  Thunder, I feel like playing at home, and knowing how close the division title is will get the Pacers the win.  They’ll have to figure out how to slow down Kevin Durant.  But that’s going to be fun to watch as Durant and Paul George will battle it out.  That could be just another “breakout” game for Paul George this season if he’s able to contain Durant.  Then come Saturday, the Pacers travel to Washington for a game against the Wizards.  I stated my feelings on that game in my video preview for the week.  If the Pacers don’t win that by double figures, I would be disappointed.  That’s how good I expect this Pacers team to be.  Two wins away from the first division title in a decade.  Time to get going and show the Eastern Conference, the Pacers are ready for the playoffs.

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