NBA Christmas: A gift for each team’s wish list in 2018

Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images /
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Indiana Pacers: Staying under the radar

Closing out games has not been a strong suit for the Indiana Pacers of late, but they posted a more than respectable 7-4 mark when Victor Oladipo was sidelined. They also won seven straight games before the recent two-game skid. By virtually every measure, this team is damn good, and largely overlooked among the Eastern Conference elite.

The thing is … that might be okay. This team functions better as an underdog, and even during the days of title contention with Reggie Miller, or more recently with Paul George, this franchise has historically embraced the underdog identity. This year’s dark horse team shouldn’t be any different.

While securing a high seed is still important for a Pacers squad that’s 11-5 within the confines of Bankers Life Fieldhouse, even if they wind up as the 5-seed just on the outside of the Raptors-Celtics-76ers-Bucks quartet everyone expects at the top, staying under the radar is how the Pacers nearly dethroned LeBron James last year.