Indiana Pacers continue to contend in a season up for grabs

There was a sense of uncertainty heading into the 2019-2020 season for the Indiana Pacers. However, an impressive stretch over the last several weeks has put the team in position to contend.

In hearing most of Indiana Pacers folks talk about the win last Wednesday against the Utah Jazz as the best of the season so far, it generated some thought.

Others mentioned it was the first win over a team with a winning record. However, it was also only the third total game for the Pacers against a team with a winning record.

The team cannot select its schedule, but the Pacers have done exactly what’s expected, outside of losses to Detroit and Cleveland.

In hindsight, it’s fairly difficult for Indiana to find strong competition, as they are only one of 13 teams in the league through Thanksgiving weekend with a winning record.

Basically, this is a season that seems up for grabs for anyone, and for the first time in a long while.

The Jazz win was a decisive moment though.

In recent years, the Pacers have had a difficult time competing with ‘win-now’ squads. Utah certainly fits that mantra with its offseason acquisitions.

It’s hard to take any team too seriously as legitimate contenders this early and with a schedule so light, but combining the injuries with how Indiana has taken care of business when expected, they are impossible to ignore now.

The 2019-20 unit has depth, which has been rare.

The Pacers exert gritty defensive efforts and have also been able to limit scoring droughts even without Victor Oladipo.

These were major issues in the past.

Most importantly, Malcolm Brogdon looks like a star and is always in control of the ball and the Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis tandem hasn’t imploded.

Also, Jeremy Lamb (when healthy) and T.J. Warren have exceeded expectations. Even the role players have pushed the team to overcome injuries.

Most nights have featured a different hero. It’s team basketball at its finest.

That said, two of the next five games are against one of those other 12 above .500, starting with the Clippers on Monday. Three of those five games are on the road as well.

If the Pacers can weather that stretch well, we are into mid-December and the return of Oladipo is hopefully on the horizon.

The outlook is strong now, but at that point, Indiana could be cooking with gas. The knee injury to Oladipo last season brought a ‘here we go again gloom.’

In reality, it could be a blessing in disguise.

Next: 3 players who have kept the Indiana Pacers afloat in Oladipo’s absence

The Pacers made moves that have paid off so far. If Oladipo returns anything like last season with this added talent, lookout. Regardless, welcome back optimism our old friend.