The Indiana Pacers have, in my opinion, made an incredible turn-around from a team that was full of misfits to a true title contender. Although one of the main reasons is because basketball Larry Bird has been orchestrating it all there are really several key pieces to their recent success. Let’s take a look at a few of them.
The starting five remain the biggest assets to the Pacers. When on the floor together no other team can out match their defensive effort and efficiency. Offensively, although not as well refined, they play well together feeding off their defensive energy. The key to this that these guys have spent some time together on and off the court. They are all familiar with each others strengths and weaknesses and constantly try to compliment each other. It proves key for me and my experiences with organized sports that your teammates are more than that. This exists with the Blue and Gold. A truly good team that exhibits solid team basketball takes time to gel. It helps the process when they are able to play together for awhile and equally if they are all competitive players who are willing to put in the work.
That leads me to my next point. The Pacers bench is all new to Indiana this year, excluding only Ian Mahinmi. I would like to believe that this allows the second unit to develop a unique bond without having much experience with each other. Of what I know of all the players the bench is full of more class acts as well as diligent professionals who are always trying to improve. The consistency they have already proven this year is truly amazing considering they haven’t had many games together at all. They have been able to not only maintain and sometimes increase leads but they don’t miss a beat with tough-nose defense. Two valuable players were just recently added to this group and it will only improve.
As we look at the entire roster their is another factor that catches my eye. Our squad is full of players who are able to play and excel at more than one position. Any team will tell you how incredibly important that is not only during the regular season but especially in the playoffs. Ask Roy Hibbert and he can confirm that it isn’t hard to get into foul trouble. Seems like when it rains it pours. It is truly an incredible asset when players are able to move to a different spot on the court because in a way it deepens your team even further. There at least 9 players at my count that are capable of doing so.
Lets not forget the unselfishness style of play Indiana displays from night to night. We all know that Paul George has emerged as the new star of the Pacers. He is able to put up big numbers consistently. This fact hardly overshadows how the rest of starting five can put up big numbers of their own and have done so on several occasions this season. For myself this has shown that they all understand that at times they may each experience hot and cold streaks and it doesn’t matter who scores the most as long as they are victorious. I have witnessed many stars shoot their way to a team loss because of pride. The unselfish play along with the high skill level of players proves to be deadly.
Speaking of sharing the Indiana Pacers are known for doing each others part handling the responsibility of defending the bucket. This defensively oriented NBA team is reminding us all that defense wins championships. We may not have done it yet, but I see it in the very new future. The comradery I mentioned above between all players gives all a sense of duty to the guys on the court. Indiana is a sight to see when they are on top of their game. Good offense will never beat sound defense.
In closing I have more puzzle piece that I briefly mentioned earlier. The front office of the Indiana Pacers has used their incredible basketball intelligence and highly efficient scouting to put together an amazing group of gentlemen. I am sure that Larry Bird’s vast amount of professional experience gives him a lot of insight into the potential character of players. The Pacers have not only found their way into the battle for the championship but they are a very well liked group of role models. If I have it my way Larry Bird will be holding his position for many years to come.
Don’t forget the Indiana Pacers head to Milwaukee to take on the Bucks. Tip-off is at 8:30 p.m. and I look for Indiana to get back in the winners column.