NBA recap: Wizards make their move, Pacers streaking and more

(Photo by Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post via Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post via Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Pacers slowing it down

Despite falling to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Dec. 18 to snap their seven-game losing streak, the Indiana Pacers find themselves 2.5 games back of the 1-seed in the Eastern Conference. Their team makeup is intriguing with a lone star in Victor Oladipo (who has only recently rejoined the rotation) and a blend of youth and veterans that simply are solid at basketball.

Domantas Sabonis is one of the best bench players in the NBA, shooting a crazy efficient 62.7 percent from the field since returning to his strength in the paint. Tyreke Evans is the second unit stabilizer and playmaker they coveted in the offseason, along with Cory Joseph. Darren Collison, Thaddeus Young and Bojan Bogdanovic have 24 years of NBA experience between them to round out the starting lineup with young big Myles Turner.

The Pacers are successful because they have defined roles and everybody plays together. It also helps having a style of play that fits their team and is completely against what the NBA is shifting towards.

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The Indiana Pacers are the NBA’s version of the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens control the clock, run the ball extensively and rely on slowing the game down to allow their defense to rest and dominate games. Indiana does exactly that.

The Pacers are first in points allowed per game (100.9 points, including holding 13 opponents under 100 points), 26th in pace (98.71), allow the fifth-fewest shots per game (85.5 field goal attempts) and first in opponent field goal percentage (43.7 percent). This tempo-controlling means there are the 26th most possessions per game (101.4) in their contests, which limits an opponent’s opportunities to score.

They allow the second-fewest points in the paint per game (42.2), take the second-fewest 3-pointers per game (25.1) and boast the seventh-highest field goal percentage in the NBA (47.3 percent). These numbers paint a picture of a team that plays to its strengths and understands it doesn’t have the weapons to outgun teams in 3-point shootouts.

The Pacers are zigging while the NBA zags, and, like the Ravens, are finding success in their style of play. It’s awesome to see a team maintaining an old school approach amid all the spread pick-and-roll 3-point shooting we have in the NBA now. Parity is good for sports, and even better when teams like the Pacers are winning more often than not with such a different style of play.