This season beginning to feel similar for the Indiana Pacers

Indiana Pacers - Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Indiana Pacers - Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /
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Indiana Pacers
Indiana Pacers – Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports /

In-Season Performance

Now, a look at how each team performed. If a claim is made that both teams weren’t successful or enjoyable, the play will tell the story.

The 2016-17 team got off to a solid but not a great start. Turner was beginning to solidify himself as a threat in his second NBA season and George continued to show that he was an All-Star caliber player on both ends. The team hovered around .500 for much of the opening months, until a seven-game win streak propelled them to a 29-22 record in early February. However, by the end of the month, they were back to .500.

The optimism that was brought into the season had generally waned as it was clear the roster overhaul did little to move the team forward, and the prized acquisitions were mostly disappointing. Rumors of a Paul George deal popped up at the trade deadline, but most Indiana fans were relieved to find out that was all they were – rumors. The sad Jeff Teague meme was born as apathy filled the seats in Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Either way, the team didn’t seem to be having much fun and the rumblings of Paul George’s desires for free agency began to creep into the conversation surrounding the team. 

Fast forward to this season, and a similar story is being told.

A 7-4 start with a first-year head coach had fans optimistic, and little changed after Oladipo was traded for Caris LeVert – a trade that most declared a “win” for Indiana. Then, as the dust settled from the trade, the Pacers began to settle themselves, into the background of the league. As they usually do, they seemed destined for a top-five seed in the East, and that was that. Most around the league assumed they would win 45+ games, Domantas Sabonis and Malcolm Brogdon would continue their reign as the league’s “most underrated players,” and that Indiana would pop back up come playoff time.

Then, they began to slip. By early February, they were below .500 at 12-13. Injuries were used as an easy write-off for the struggles, but defensive issues continued to crop up. The team did briefly pop back up above .500 after an OT win against Minnesota, but since then, has fallen back to the play-in realm in the East.

Much like in 2016-17, there were reports of Indiana’s stars being on the market. Brogdon and Sabonis were both rumored to be available for the right price, and fans grew increasingly unhappy with the play on the court. Now, in the same way as 2016-17, Indiana finds itself mired in a disappointing and unexciting season that will require a strong finish to crack the playoffs– a spot that the Pacers typically make with relative ease.