Nov 20, 2013; New York, NY, USA; Indiana Pacers power forward David West (21) reacts during the overtime period of a game against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. The Pacers defeated the Knicks 103-96 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Indiana Pacers: 3 Things I Learned in November

Nov 15, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers forward Paul George (24) takes a shot against Milwaukee Bucks guard Luke Ridnour (13) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana defeats Milwaukee 104-77. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

One month done of the season, and there’s not much to complain about so far this Pacers’ season.  What to be ticky tack and say that loss to the Chicago Bulls shouldn’t have had happened?  Go for it. After the first quarter in that game, you could just tell the Bulls were ready for it.  Want to say that the offense could be better?  The Pacers are averaging 97 points a game, which is probably where I would want to be.  Bench could be better?  They are already better than last year’s bench, and no mention of that.  They played an easy schedule.  Well, like THEY say, you can only play who’s in front of you on the schedule.  Who knew that the Eastern Conference would look so bad this early.

If November is the month to be thankful, there are plenty of reasons to be thankful for the Pacers. But what have I learned about this team?

Defense, Defense, Defense

The Pacers defense is something else.  To only allow 86 points a game is fantastic.  If the Pacers keep a game under 90, they should be in it to win it.  Even when games have gone over that, they’ve shown that ability to win games.  Roy Hibbert is having a monster year in the block department.  One point, he was in the middle of the field with blocks BY HIMSELF.  If he’s not the early candidate for Defensive Player of the Year, I am not sure how much more he can do. Paul George is an elite defender out on the floor as he’s out there stopping the best player on the other side.  I hold on to that New York Knicks game as Carmelo Anthony went 1-10 in the second half after Paul George stepped it up.  Guys all around this team are making defensive plays.  You have the new guys, Chris Copeland and Luis Scola, getting a block or two out there.  You have Lance Stephenson getting steals and starting a break.  This defense leads the way for the offense.  Will it win a championship?  We will find that out.

Paul George Has the LOOK

You know the look of a confident superstar.  I’m ready to put that label on Paul George as he’s shown that aura that surrounds the top players in the league.  You can see him out there making shots, getting guys in the right place, making steals, defending, passing, and doing all the stat sheet stuffing he can do.  Just watch this clip right here, and see Paul George walking away before the shot is even in the hoop.  If that’s not confidence, I don’t know what is.  But that look and “swagger” is what makes Paul George a legit MVP candidate already.  He’s not getting down on himself like a couple of seasons ago. He’s got that look going to where you just know he’s ready to take over. If you’ve watched much of the second half of games, you know Paul George has done that plenty. I believe he’s first in the league in scoring in the third quarter.  It’s that look that’s going to take Paul George to new heights in this Pacers uniform.

Say what we will about the “easiest” schedule so far, but don’t worry, things will pick up this way. But I will go to the old standby of you play who you play.  Yes, the Eastern Conference is bad, but you still have to win those games.  The Pacers have only lost 1 game though, and that’s showing what kind of focus this team has for the season.  They don’t want to be second or third in the Conference, but first. They want to be the best, not just “one of the best.”  This West Coast trip could put away those doubts about the team as a whole if they’re able to get some quality wins out of it.

But that’s the best part about the NBA, any win all counts the same. No style points in this field.  Win a game, move on, and continue to get better that’s the Pacers way of doing things.  You look right now at the standings and the Pacers are already ahead by 7.0 games.  7 games out front of Chicago.  That’s impressive with only playing 16 games.  Even a 2 game lead in the Conference over Miami, who’s looking like Miami.  We’ll have to talk about the record next week when there’s all the tough games coming up and even a date with Miami. But for now, 15-1 looks fantastic.

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