It’s an uncomfortable truth, but the Indiana Pacers, winners of four straight, are currently the hottest team in the NBA. With their 105-99 win in Milwaukee, the Pacers overtook their win total from last season and improved to 38-22, keeping them 3 games ahead of the Boston Celtics in the East race for the 3rd seed.
I didn’t want to believe it myself, considering how erratic the Pacers have been playing as of late, but right now there is no other team in the league with a four-game win-streak. The Pacers are also the only team in the East and along with San Antonio, the only teams in the league, to have gone 8-2 in their last 10 games.
Does this mean much? Not really. But there are some positive trends emerging during this recent run.
The first is that Danny Granger has well and truly risen up and taken this team by the balls, becoming its unequivocal leader and best player at last. After a really frighteningly bad start to the season, Granger has stepped up, leading the team in scoring on most nights and still hitting big shots when he’s not.
Secondly, Roy Hibbert’s confidence appears to be back. He went through a slump after the All-Star break but is putting up solid numbers again. He had 23 and 14 in today’s win against the Bucks, and sealed the game by hitting 6 consecutive free throws to hold off a late charge. Both George Hill and Darren Collison nearly gave away recent games with poor foul shooting, so it’s good to see the big man hold his nerve.
The bench is still not reliable but the insertion of Leandro Barbosa has given it an undeniable boost, especially now that Hill is starting in place of the injured Collison. It’s good to have a guy you can count on to score, even though he won’t always necessarily deliver. But that feeling is good, at least.
So what now? I only hope the Pacers have not peaked too early. They have a pretty breezy run to finish off the season — Wolves, @76ers, Bucks, 76ers, Pistons, Bulls. They won’t catch up to Miami for the 2nd seed but it makes holding on to the third seed much easier.