No Time to Pace for Indiana
*Photo via Indy Star
The Pacers looked to be playoff bound for much of the season behind Paul George, however, now they find themselves on the cusp of two straight years out of the postseason.
Following the other nights 98-96 loss to the Chicago Bulls, the current ninth seed in the Eastern conference, the Bulls sit two games back of the Pacers, but now having won the season series, own the tiebreaker against Indiana. The Detroit Pistons also won the same night against the Oklahoma City Thunder, and sit seventh in the East, one game above the Pacers.
The only team the Pacers can blame for their current status in the East is themselves. The Pacers have lost 25 games this season decided by 10 points or less. If the Pacers converted half of those games into wins, they are looking at a two or three seed in the East. Unfortunately this Pacers team hasn’t closed out games in the 4th quarter, the other night against Chicago being no different.
The Pacers have been given a gift with their remaining schedule, as they have eight games left with six of their opponents being under 500. If the Pacers were to win out, they still mathematically have a chance to jump all the way up to the third seed in the Eastern Conference. This goes to show how tight the standings are heading into the final month of the season. This isn’t the time for Indiana to take this stretch as a cakewalk. The Pacers have failed to close out close games and lost to the Brooklyn Nets last week, whom they face one more time this season.
Paul George is dealing with the usual late in the season nagging injuries, but the pressure to make the playoffs falls primarily on his shoulders. George is the star of this team and as much as he needs the players around him to rise to the occasion, as a superstar and he must play a huge factor in closing out late games. This is the healthiest the Pacers have been all season, which is a plus for the second unit. Ty Lawson, Rodney Stuckey and C.J Miles headline the Pacers bench. This unit could be pretty fun to watch and overall a successful second unit across the NBA. Even though I’d like to see Lawson in the starting lineup, him on the second unit makes the Pacers more complete.
With these final eight games upon us, the last push for the playoffs begins on 3/31 when the Pacers take on the Orlando Magic. There’s no time to Pace for Indiana.