Pacers sweep Rockets – time for a charge?

January 24, 2009 in Indiana Pacers, NBA by pacejmiller

Pacers win! But…

I was very excited to see that the Indiana Pacers managed to hold on against the Houston Rockets at home, 107-102.  This meant a season sweep against the Rockets (!), and improved their record to 16-27, still second worst in the East.

However, it was far from an impressive win at home.  The Rockets are a good team, but they were already missing stars Tracy McGray and Ron Artest, and the Pacers caught another break when remaining star Yao Ming injured his knee and sat out the second half.  Still, the Pacers shot poorly and almost managed to lose control of it towards the end.  If it weren’t for some accurate free throw shooting, they could have very easily lost the game.

The highlight was of course Danny Granger’s end-of-game stuff of Von Wafer’s dunk attempt that pretty much killed off any chance of a Rockets comeback.  Do yourself a favour and watch the video again and again below.

Can they make a charge?  Upcoming schedule says maybe…

ind2Talk all season has been about how tough the Pacers’ early schedule has been.  There is some truth to this – but when you’re as bad as the Pacers, pretty much every game is a tough one.  Really – if you run through their schedule game by game, you’ll notice there aren’t many games where you can say ‘they should win this one easily’ (and they sometimes lose those ones too).

However, this has not stopped recent chatter around the water cooler that the Pacers are finally to make a run for a spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs.  As of today, they are 16-27, 14th out of a possible 15 teams in the East.  In the 7th position is Philadelphia with a record of 20-21, and rounding off the top 8 is Milwaukee with 21-25.  New Jersey is 9th with 19-24. 

So it’s not that far-fetched that the Pacers could make the playoffs.  For some reason John Hollinger’s Playoff Odds constantly have the Pacers within striking distance of the playoffs.  Currently they are ranked 9th in the East, just out of the picture, with a 23.4% chance of still making it.  Are the Pacers really that much better than their record indicates?

Let’s look at their upcoming schdule (next 17 games): Charlotte, @Orlando, Milwaukee, Miami, New York, Minnesota, @Philadelphia, Orlando, @Washington, Cleveland, @Milwaukee, Philadelphia, @Charlotte, @Minnesota, Chicago, @Knicks, Memphis.

If this isn’t the time to make a run, then I don’t know what is.  Take out the 2 games against Orlando and the games against Cleveland and Miami – and you’ve got 13 upcoming games against sub-0.500 teams.  You’ve also got 10 home games against only 7 away games.  On top of that, Mike Dunleavy is starting to round into form, and TJ Ford and Marquis Daniels are supposedly almost recovered from their respective injuries.

However, Pacers fans need to keep their expectations in check.  What can be expected from this ‘soft’ patch?  12-5?  11-6? 10-7?

Out of the teams they play in this period, only Minnesota and Memphis actually have worse records than the Pacers.  Therefore, I would consider anything equal or better than 10-7 during this bunch of games a moderate success.  It’s not going to get them back in playoff contention just yet, but they could at least give themselves an opportunity down the home stretch.  Besides, you never know.  Momentum is a strange thing, so if the Pacers can string together a few victories early on they could easily move further up the ladder than anticipated.  I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.