Can the Indiana Pacers Be the Best Team in the Eastern Conference?

The Indiana Pacers are 27-14, and only three games behind the conference’s number one seed even after a brutal road trip.

The Indiana Pacers are one of the league’s biggest surprises in the NBA this season. Exactly midway through the season, the Pacers are 27-14, the third best record in the East. But does their record really show who the best in the conference is?

Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks (29-11) lead the Eastern conference and are pretty darn good. But not good enough to beat the Pacers. In their latest meeting almost exactly one month ago, the Pacers whooped the East-leading Bucks by 16 points. What makes the win even more impressive is that arguably the best player on Indiana, Victor Oladipo, played a very average game – scoring 12 points on 5-11 shooting. The scoring was led by Thaddeus Young, who dropped 25 and center Myles Turner, who added in 23 points – 12 of which came  beyond the arc. Bojan Bogdanovic even added 16 points.

Yes, the Pacers only finished 2-2 on their five game road trip. And yes, their two wins came in Cleveland and Chicago, while they floundered against Toronto and Boston. However, the Pacers look to end the road trip on a good note as they head to New York to take on the young, inexperienced New York Knicks. While defense has been an issue over the past four games, this game versus the Knicks on Friday night in Madison Square Garden could turn their defensive struggles around, although the Pacers will be without Myles Turner, who is nursing a shoulder injury. The Pacers have given up a disgusting 116 points per game since Christmas, something that must be addressed immediately if they want to make a run at the top seed by the time the playoffs roll around.

Luckily after Friday night in New York, the Pacers get to stay home for five straight games at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Hopefully they can get their defense straightened out by then and show the rest of the league that they can certainly become the top seed in the Eastern conference come April.

The Indiana Pacers take on the New York Knicks (10-31) on Friday night at 7:30 PM ET in New York City at Madison Square Garden, broadcast nationally on ESPN.