The Indiana Pacers win streak was ended this past week. The Pacers sit at 9-1 after a bad loss to the Chicago Bulls.
Despite the loss, the Pacers still have the best record in the East, a two game lead over the Heat, and are tied with the Spurs for the best record in the NBA. They also have a three game lead over the Bulls for control of the Central division.
The loss dropped the Pacers to number two in ESPN’s Power Rankings, if that kind of thing matters to you. They are still the best team in the East, and its really not even close.
The Bulls played their best game of the season by far. Indiana’s starting five collectively decided to have an off night. Paul George was just 3-for-14 and held to his lowest point total of the season with 12.
David West and Lance Stephenson took far too many shots and both struggled to finish around the basket. The only starter to have a good game was Roy Hibbert, who finished with a double-double and three more blocks.
At one point, the Pacers trailed by 33 points, its honestly surprising that they only lost 110-94. The defense completely broke down, and Derrick Rose had his best game of the year so far. Its highly unlikely that he goes 6-for-11 from the three point line against the Pacers again this season.
About the only good thing to happen from the loss is Chris Copeland finally found his shot again. Well, that and now Frank Vogel has something to work with during practice. Its hard to get players to listen when the team is winning every night.
The Pacers were coming off back-to-back games and had to lose eventually. Its not like the Pacers were going to have an undefeated season. A frustrating loss, yes, but there are still 72 games left to play.
Were going to learn a lot about this team over the next week:
Nov. 20th – Indiana at New York, 7pm ESPN
The hated Knicks currently sit at a surprising 3-6 this season. They’ll play the Pistons on Tuesday before hosting the Pacers the next night. Why are the Knicks struggling this season? Well, they’re at the bottom of the league in rebounds, giving up 100 points per game, and Carmelo Anthony is taking 18 shots per game. The Knicks are lacking consistency across their roster and can’t even win at home (1-5 at Madison Square Garden). The Knicks three wins? Versus Milwaukee, at Charlotte, and at Atlanta. Not exactly powerhouses of the NBA.
The Pacers, coming off a bad loss and with four days to prepare, should dismantle the Knicks. These are too teams with no love lost between each other. Yes, the rivalry of the 90s isn’t what it used to be, but there is still animosity between Indiana and New York on the hardwood.
Nov. 22nd – Indiana at Boston, 7:30pm
The Celtics are 4-7. They will be at Houston Tuesday night and at San Antonio Wednesday night before hosting the Pacers Friday. Brad Stevens’ team seems to be winning and losing games four at a time. After and 0-4 start, they rattled off four wins including a monumental one-point upset at Miami. They’ve lost their last three, and look destined to lose their next two on the road. Simply put, Boston is not a good team. PG Rajon Rondo hasn’t played yet this season as he continues to rehab a torn ACL. This team is destined for a lottery pick come June.
Roy Hibbert will be matched up against rookie Kelly Olynyk, who gives up over 50-pounds to Hibbert. The rookie is more of a finesse player, so I expect Hibbert to bully him in the post and have a huge game.
The Celtics are in the bottom fifth of the league in everything, save points allowed and at nearly 98 per game, its not that impressive. The Pacers are a championship caliber team, and they should easily handle the Celtics. This will be the first time this season that the Pacers will be on national TV, so it would be a good night for a statement game.
Nov. 23rd – Indiana vs Philadelphia, 7pm
The 76ers are a surprising 5-7 and somehow lead the Atlantic Division (which is a dumpster fire of a division right now). Many considered this team a lock for the worst record in the NBA, and after a hot start, they’re starting to come back to earth. They won their first three games, including wins over Miami and Chicago. The Sixers are on a three game skid, with home games against Toronto and Milwaukee, before heading to Indiana.
The hot start was led by rookie Michael Carter-Williams (who IU fans will remember from the Syracuse game). But the rookie’s numbers have started to level out and then he sprained his foot. He didn’t play on Monday, and will likely be questionable for Saturday’s game.
For Ohio State star Evan Turner currently leads the team in scoring with 22 points per game, but he’s needing 18 shots a night to do so. The Sixers have been surprisingly good on the glass, ranking ninth in the league in rebounding. The big issue for this team is defense where they rank dead last and are giving up nearly 110 points per game. They are also terrible on the road with a 1-4 record away from home. When they lose, its ugly having been blown out by 20+ points multiple times.
If (when) the Pacers get up on this team, they will fold fast and hard. The Pacers can rebound from their first loss of the season with a 3-0 week fairly easily.
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