Who would have guessed that the Indiana Pacers would be 33-21 without Danny Granger? Yet here we are, with the Pacers just a half game behind the New York Knicks for the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. That’s the same Knicks team that got throttled 125-91 by the Pacers on February 20.
While the record is surprising, the way they’re doing it and the teams that they’re defeating is even more impressive. Against the other seven teams currently in the Eastern Conference playoffs (Heat, Knicks, Nets, Bulls, Hawks, Celtics and Bucks), the Pacers are an unspectacular 8-8, but they’re 7-3 in 2013.
It took the Pacers a while to get hot, but now they’re rolling and things are about to get even better. We’ll get to that in a minute.
Over the Pacers’ last 11 games, they are 7-4, with three overtime losses and a one-point loss with .4 seconds remaining. However, each of their seven wins have come by double-digits.
|44||Sat, Jan 26, 2013||Box Score||@||Utah Jazz||L||OT||110||114||26||18||L 2|
|45||Mon, Jan 28, 2013||Box Score||@||Denver Nuggets||L||101||102||26||19||L 3|
|46||Wed, Jan 30, 2013||Box Score||Detroit Pistons||W||98||79||27||19||W 1|
|47||Fri, Feb 1, 2013||Box Score||Miami Heat||W||102||89||28||19||W 2|
|48||Mon, Feb 4, 2013||Box Score||Chicago Bulls||W||111||101||29||19||W 3|
|49||Tue, Feb 5, 2013||Box Score||Atlanta Hawks||W||114||103||30||19||W 4|
|50||Wed, Feb 6, 2013||Box Score||@||Philadelphia 76ers||W||88||69||31||19||W 5|
|51||Fri, Feb 8, 2013||Box Score||Toronto Raptors||L||OT||98||100||31||20||L 1|
|52||Mon, Feb 11, 2013||Box Score||Brooklyn Nets||L||OT||84||89||31||21||L 2|
|53||Wed, Feb 13, 2013||Box Score||Charlotte Bobcats||W||101||77||32||21||W 1|
|54||Wed, Feb 20, 2013||Box Score||New York Knicks||W||125||91||33||21||W 2|
The Pacers can win in many different ways, but it’s their defense that has gotten them to this point. They are No. 1 in the NBA, giving up just 89.9 points per game. To be fair, the Pacers do play a slow pace and are No. 26 in the NBA, with just 89.7 possessions per-48 minutes. However, they are No. 1 in the league in defensive rating.
With a defense like that, they can overcome any lack of offense they have. That’s about to get better.
Danny Granger has been out since the beginning of the 2012-13 season with left patellar tendinitis, but he’s slated to come back any day now.
Mike Wells of IndyStar.com reported that a return is imminent, with Granger already taking part in full practices.
Granger will bring that offense that the Pacers have been lacking. He’s led the team in scoring each of the last five years and is a guy who makes everyone around him better. He’s not a defensive stalwart, but his deficiencies are somewhat covered up because of the quality of defenders around him.
In Granger’s absence, it’s been Paul George that has elevated himself to star status. Getting Granger back means George will have some of the pressure taken off of his shoulders. George has averaged 17.8 points, 7.8 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.8 steals this year and was selected to his first All-Star game.
We know Granger is a quality basketball player who is more talented offensively than defensively. We also know the Pacers are one of (if not the) best defensive teams in the league. Granger is going to give them a boost where they need it most. Keep an eye on these Pacers when the playoffs come around. If there’s a team that can knock off the Miami Heat, it’s them.