Coming into this season, the Indiana Pacers were naturally tabbed as one of the challengers to the Heat’s championship reign. After all, last season Indiana got to within one win of the NBA Finals before succumbing to Miami in seven games.
The Pacers’ hot start to this campaign has shown they are here to stay and will be hoping to overtake Miami in the East. Indiana won a team-record nine games in a row to begin the season and currently holds the NBA’s best record. Despite that, here are five reasons why they will not maintain this lightning pace:
1. Misleading early schedule. Indiana’s opponents so far have been relatively weak. Their best win was arguably at home against the Chicago Bulls, while their first loss was a comprehensive beat-down at an improved Bulls team just 10 days later. The Pacers are yet to get to the meat of their schedule. Before Christmas, a lengthy road trip awaits which includes dates with Western Conference favorites San Antonio, Oklahoma City and L.A. Clippers. They also have two clashes with LeBron James and the Heat.
2. Not enough killer instinct. The Pacers grind out too many wins and have a tendency of letting inferior competition hang around in games. Eight of their first ten wins were single-digit contests in the final quarter. A long and arduous 82-game season will wear any team down that doesn’t learn to step on an opponent’s throat when given the opportunity.
3. Lack of elite point guard. George Hill is serviceable, but his 3.5 assists per game are not enough to facilitate the Indiana offense. Paul George and Roy Hibbert are knocking on the door of becoming elite players, but will not take the next step offensively without better service. As a team, Indiana is in the bottom third of the league when it comes to assists per game. (The Miami Heat don’t have an elite point guard, but LeBron and Dwyane Wade’s handling of the ball more than makes up for that)
4. Poor play on the road. While the Pacers are very good at protecting their home court, they’re often a different prospect on the road. Last season Indiana were a losing team away from home, which cost them a shot at the Eastern Conference’s 2nd seed. Despite a better showing so far in this campaign, the lopsided loss in Chicago and the overtime win at struggling New York are causes for concern.
5. Added pressure and expectations. Last season’s talk about whether the Heat could repeat and when the injured Derrick Rose would return to the Bulls allowed Indiana to fly under the radar in the East. That’s no longer a luxury for coach Frank Vogel and company, as they’ve become arguably Miami’s biggest challengers. The Pacers have plenty of experience but lack players who’ve dealt with pressure like that before.
Miami will remain the league favorite until someone knocks them off their perch. Will that team be the Indiana Pacers? We’ll have a much better idea come Christmas.
Your research doesn't account for the Pacers being one of the only teams to play 5 games in 7 nights. George Hill isn't actually a point guard he is a guard. The majority of ball handling with the Pacers is evenly divided. You are correct they average about 5 less assists per than the #1 assist team Miami. But they average more blocks, more offensive rebounds per than Miami to equal out touches. They have never been particularly efficient on the offensive end. I would argue that Indiana has played a tougher schedule than Miami to this point. Last year the Pacers played the toughest schedule in the entire NBA #1 in back to back games and played the only back to back to back in the NBA. The Pacers will not fall away they will get better.
Indy is improved. and it shall show. Paul George is gonna have a HUGE year and play like a MVP stay tuned
you must have forgotten that this is the SAME team that took the heat to a game 7. it's not as though its a new team. your article means nothing.
this article is a joke. u should retire....odds are they won't keep up this "lightning pace". if they do they'll go 75-7. i doubt they will do that but they have the best defense and they are deep. they dont need george hill to have a lot of assist because the whole team is unselfish and everyone shares. he is a converted SG, anyway, and is a good scorer. lance stephenson was supposed to lose his starting job to a guy that hasn't played this year, yet he leads the nba in triple doubles with 2, and isn't getting any worse. oh ya, that guy who hasn't played, danny granger, isn't going to make them any worse when he returns. hibbert has more blocks than half the teams in the league. and as far as the killer instinct is concerned, see paul george....they don't step on other teams throats...they are last in the league in first half ppg, but first in the second half. they just wear teams down. but ur right, seeing as they probably won't go 75-7, they will likely fall off this pace. this is still a joke of an article.
Sam, will you eat your words at seasons end? Or will you jump on the bandwagon as many sportswriters will do. You are not clairvoyant, if you were you'd bet on the ponies. Just hang in there with your fLakers. We Pacer fan don't want to hear it.
Ha! Another Miami Heat fan trying to console himself. Don't worry. You'll always have your LeBron James jammies and pillow case...
Boo-hooo! Idiots are up in arms. They are having delusions of 81-1 record. Players claim that the championship should be theirs. Tools. Granger is brittle and he won't see meaningful minutes ever again. Stephenson is over hyped, inconsistent player who masquerades as a star. Paul George is good but he is not LeBron, and he will never be. Hibbert became a better defensive player only when the refs started to do him favors with the BS verticality rule. It almost decapitated LeBron. Feast on the horrible east teams but the Pacers will go home as losers after the west coast trip. Bank it!
U said very well
World Sport provides and inside track to the major issues and stories making news in the world of sports with CNN's anchors, correspondents and journalists providing opinion and in-depth analysis as well as a left field look at all things competitive.
CNN's daily sports show @ 0500, 1700, 2230 (GMT)