- The Pacers snapped the Lakers’ 14-game road winning streak.
- At 19-9, they have the league’s ninth-best net rating.
- There’s ample reason to believe Indiana will only get better, too.
The Los Angeles Lakers’ 14-game road winning streak ended Tuesday night. Instead of being frustrated by a hard-fought, last-second loss, though, the Lakers were resolute in the post-game locker room.
Why? The Indiana Pacers, as Frank Vogel noted after his team’s 105-102 defeat, are a “great basketball team.”
No team in the league has flown more under the radar than the Pacers over the first two months of 2019-20. But at 19-9 with its franchise player’s long-awaited return finally on the horizon, here are five reasons why it’s time to stop sleeping on Indiana.
5. Resilience In the Face of Injury
Victor Oladipo isn’t the Pacers’ only marquee player to be sidelined in the season’s early going.
Myles Turner was absent for eight straight games in early November with a sprained right ankle. Jeremy Lamb has already missed nine games, and left Indiana’s win over the Lakers early with a right groin injury. The Pacers have played four games without Malcolm Brogdon, and two without Domantas Sabonis.
Indiana, basically, has the league’s ninth-best net rating despite being far less than full-strength all season long. As their injury luck at the top of the roster gets better, expect the Pacers to play better, too.
4. Sabonis and Turner Can Coexist
Preseason critics of Indiana doubted the ability of Sabonis and Turner to successfully coexist in the front court, and it’s not hard to see why. The league is ever reliant on speed and skill as it grows increasingly comfortable downsizing. As good as Sabonis and Turner are in a vacuum, their pairing still leaves areas to be exploited on both sides of the ball.
Regardless, Indiana’s two-headed monster on the interior has proven effective so far. Lineups featuring Sabonis and Turner have a +6.3 net rating, comfortably…