The Indiana Pacers have been one of the leagues biggest surprises this season. The blue and gold are 13-11, good for the eighth spot overall in the Eastern Conference. The Central Division has four teams in top eight that include the Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons, and the Milwaukee Bucks who all rank above the Pacers.
As a pleasant surprise to Pacer fans, the new roster has gelled very well in the early part of the season. Head coach Nate McMillan intends to build upon their early success and get better as the season moves on.
Let’s break this team down and see where they have really excelled at this season.
Three-Point Percentage: 2nd, 39.8%
Thank you to the stellar three-point shooting performances that Bojan Bogdanovic, Victor Oladipo, and Cory Joseph have put up this year, the Pacers rank 2nd behind who other than the Golden State Warriors in terms of three-point percentage. All three players rank in the Top 20 for three-point shooting percentage. Even big man Myles Turner has been stroking the three ball this year.
Field Goal Percentage: 4th, 48.1%
The Pacers look for the best shot possible each time down the floor. Teammates have not been afraid of passing up a good shot for a great shot. On average, the Pacers are making three passes per possession at roughly 100 possessions a game. Ball movement has been the key to taking efficient shots for Indiana.
Fast-Break Points Per Game: 3rd, 15.2
The new run and gun style of the NBA has finally made its way to Indianapolis after Larry Bird reluctantly tried to improve the pace over the last couple seasons. The speed that resides in the Pacer’s backcourt is almost unmatchable with Victor Oladipo, Darren Collison, and Lance Stephenson all looking to push the pace each time they get the ball in their hands.
Points Per Game: 6th, 108.9
When you take good shots, good things happen. The Pacers have not forced a whole lot of shots this year unless it is late in the shot-clock. This can also be attributable to their high shooting percentages on all field goals and three-point field goals as well. Open shots are rarely missed by NBA players and the Pacers have proved that.
Points Off Turnovers Per Game: 5th, 19.1
This shows the pace that Nate McMillan is committed to playing with. When the ball comes off the rim, the Pacers are looking to push it up-court and raise the tempo. The transition game has been one in which Indiana has flourished this year to a tune of 509 points in transition which is the fourth highest output in the association.
Assists Per Game: 6th, 23.4
Once again, largely attributable to the unselfishness that this team plays with. Darren Collison has been a spark at the PG position, setting the tone each possession. They have built a trust and chemistry amongst each other that few teams in the NBA have. Lance Stephenson is more interested in making a jaw-dropping pass than he is hitting a three late in the game.
Assists to Turnover Ratio: 2nd, 1.63
Not only does this number indicate strong offense, but it also shows how little the Pacers have turned the ball over. Turnovers are a cancer to any offense and Indiana has done a great job at minimizing them. The Pacers only turn the ball over 14.4 time per game which is the 9th lowest figure in all of the NBA.
Offensive Rating: 6th, 107.9
All of the above-mentioned categories are what have given Indiana such a high offensive rating. The only teams ahead of them are the Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Cleveland Cavaliers, Toronto Raptors, and Minnesota Timberwolves. Not bad company for a small market team looking to rebuild.
The Pacers got back on track Monday night on the toes of a six-game homestand, beating the New York Knicks 115-9. This win came after back-to-back losses on the road to the Houston Rockets and Toronto Raptors. Bankers Life Fieldhouse and the Pacers will host the Chicago Bulls tonight, Cleveland on Friday, Denver on Sunday in a matinee, and then Paul George returns next Wednesday when the Oklahoma City Thunder come to town. It is crucial that the Pacers play well during this six-game home stretch and come out of it with a few good wins.