Are the Indiana Pacers slowly bringing back this notorious habit?

Rick Carlisle - Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
Rick Carlisle - Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports /

Despite flunking their latest Western Conference road trip, which saw them register a 2-5 slate, the Indiana Pacers remain owners of a winning record. At 13-12, the team is still well within the playoff picture in the East, currently tied with Atlanta and Toronto for fifth place in the conference.

Thanks to an impressive series of wins before their road trip, the Pacers suddenly looked like a squad that is very capable of being a wildcard in the postseason. Led by the All-Star play of Tyrese Haliburton and the rock-solid numbers of Buddy Hield and Myles Turner, as well as rookie Bennedict Mathurin, Indiana’s projected stature as cellar dwellers was quickly put to rest.

However, with the Pacers’ title chances this season standing at a virtual zero, is the team slowly bringing back a notorious habit with a creeping confusion direction-wise?

Are the Indiana Pacers reverting to the Indiana Pacers of old?

For those new to all these, well, the notorious habit being spoken about is the past proclivity of the Indiana Pacers as a franchise to steer away from the path of conviction. No matter who is on the roster, the team had the word “competitive” plastered across the board. Fans have enjoyed multiple enjoyable seasons despite the lack of a championship, but as consequence, the team never had a bona fide chance to score big on the draft.

All of that changed last season when the Pacers made a big move sending an established All-Star like Domantas Sabonis to Sacramento for Haliburton, marking the beginning of a rebuild. With Mathurin becoming their highest draft selection over three decades, Indiana seemed poised for a brighter future, though at the expense of short-term pains.

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Fast forward to the present though, and the team is right where no one expected them to be: in the middle. Unfortunately, context accounted for, that is starting to sound more precarious with each passing day.

Sooner than later, the franchise has to double down on its true aim for this season. If they want to bolster an unprecedented playoff push, plugging roster holes and improving the team through further veteran additions become necessary.

Conversely, if they do what’s expected (and perhaps, the most logical), by swimming with the tide in the 2023 NBA Draft sweepstakes, then the Pacers brass has to sell eventually, especially as regards their veterans, and amplify their young core.

Fortunately, with a toughening schedule staring the Indiana Pacers right in the eye, more clarity—or perhaps, reality checks—should be on the way, giving the team some much-needed grit and reasoning to take the most ideal maneuvers and make the most of the direction they choose.

Next. The PG trade keeps on giving for the Pacers. dark