One stat that should stop the Indiana Pacers from panicking

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - NOVEMBER 7: Ben Simmons #25 of the Philadelphia 76ers dunks the ball against the Indiana Pacers on November 7, 2018 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - NOVEMBER 7: Ben Simmons #25 of the Philadelphia 76ers dunks the ball against the Indiana Pacers on November 7, 2018 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images) /

A pair of losses this week has the Indiana Pacers fan base going into hysterics, but here’s one stat that should provide some serenity.

There’s no way to shine a… you know, but before the Indiana Pacers trade Myles Turner and Boomer, let’s take a deep breath and remember they still have a winning record at 7-5 (and would finish with just under 50 wins at this rate), including a win over the Boston Celtics.

This isn’t the first time I’ve said not to panic this season, but the sentiment stands.

While there is no way to suss out exactly what the Pacers are after just 12 games, there is at least one stat we should look at before deciding Nate McMillan should be fired (shut up) or calling the rest of the season off.

Indiana has the 8th best net rating in the NBA. On average, they’re outscoring opponents by 3.8 points per 100 possession. The Pacers are playing an imperfect but winning basketball. Despite rebounding issues, the lack of 3-point attempts, and other pet-peeves, the Pacers are winning out in the possession to possession battles.

Indiana’s 14th ranked offense and 7th ranked defense is better than most teams in the NBA. Indiana is better than average.

That comes with a few caveats, but it’s worth remembering while sulking in the devastation of a pair of losses decided by a total of 10 points.

Now, let’s address a few of those caveats, as well as a few smaller reasons why that net rating is still worth looking at.

The Indiana Pacers had an easy schedule, but not a cake walk

Yes, the Pacers played Brooklyn Nets, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, and New York Knicks. Those were three games the Pacers should and did win.

However, the Milwaukee Bucks and Portland Trail Blazers certainly aren’t cupcakes. Nor are the Houston Rockets, despite their record. And in the loss to the so-so Minnesota Timberwolves, it took a historically good bench performance from the Wolves (and an ugly one from the Pacers) to grab the win.

They may have had the 8th easiest schedule in the NBA so far, but they also took on a few high-quality playoff teams. Two of their wins came on the road the San Antonio Spurs and Memphis Grizzlies, which rank 4th and 5th in the Western Conference standings at the moment.

None of this excuses mistakes made by the Pacers, but if their net rating holds, they should pick up more wins and possibly avenge those losses down the road.

There are issues the Indiana Pacers must address

Let’s just haphazardly go over a few of them.

The lack of 3-point attempts isn’t going to fix itself, but the Pacers must do more than simply hoist up more attempts. They’ll need to create more high-quality attempts. One reason they’re 5th in the league in percentage is they take smart shots. They need to find a way to get more of those.

Darren Collison is regressing to the mean from last season, but he also had been getting back on track as of late.

Whatever’s happening with the Sabonis-Turner situation at center seems like an inflection point whether anyone wants it to be or not. Sabonis’ defense has issues but while Turner is a defensive eraser it’s hard to know how many points he will get on a given night.

Attached to that, the bench and starters are still working on producing more cohesion. The bench itself ranks 8th in efficiency, but there are moments when certain pairings and certain situations bring that stat into question.

It is worth noting every regular minutes getting Pacer — save T.J. Leaf who dealt with an injury and then getting back up to speed — is in the positive as far as on/off net rating.

As they are deployed more in the right situations is another situation, like net rating, that should show up more and more as wins as the season wears on.

Putting it all together

Patience is a virtue, but hard to ask for that in the NBA where losses rack up as things work themselves out.

But right now, the Pacers net rating says they are doing things right. They aren’t a disjointed mess that shows no hope or evidence of putting it together.

Their schedule is a counter to that in some ways but only should matter if things trend in the wrong direction and the net rating plummets.

How Victor Oladipo changed the vibe inside BLF. dark. Next

Right now the Indiana Pacers are out playing their opponents on the whole. They still need a lot of polish, but if they continue that trend, the wins will pile up and some of these close games against higher quality teams will go their way.