Pacers beat Heat, leap from 14th to 12th

January 31, 2009 in Basketball, Indiana Pacers, NBA by pacejmiller

Mike Dunleavy Jr is officially back.  But what's the deal with the moustache?
Mike Dunleavy Jr is officially back. But what’s the deal with the moustache?

All smiles as Indiana overcomes Miami

It’s all good news today for the Indiana Pacers.

First, they beat the Miami Heat 114-103.  Secondly, Mike Dunleavy played 36 minutes and scored a season high 30 points, indicating a long-awaited return to last-season’s form.  Thirdly, newly annointed All-Star Danny Granger shook of concerns about his knee troubles (see my worried rant on this) and scored 19 points in 34 minutes.  Fourthly, not to be underestimated, seldom-used Maceo Baston finally got some game time and had 12 points and 7 rebounds in 19 minutes.  Why don’t they use this guy more?

Finally, a move in the standings

Most importantly, the Pacers finally made a move in the standings after improving their record to 19-28.  With the win, coupled with losses to the Toronto Raptors and Charlotte Bobcats, Indiana leapt 2 spots in the Eastern Conference playoff race from 14th to 12th (half a game ahead of Toronto and identical record with Charlotte but ahead on tie-breakers).  New Jersey, Chicago and New York (whom the Pacers play next) are in the next 3 spots, each other 20 wins.  Unfortunately Milwaukee, in the 8th and final spot, is still comfortably ahead on 23-27.

Can they keep going?

As great as this current run of sorts (4 wins in 5 games and 7 straight at home) looks at the moment, years of unrealistic expectations and disappointment as a Pacer fan have taught me to be extremely cautious.  Their last few wins have come from Houston (without Artest and McGrady, and Yao played only in the first half), Charlotte (no explanation necessary), Milwaukee (without Redd and Bogut) and Miami (Marion was out and Haslem got tossed after 2 technicals in the first quarter).

The good news is that the next 2 games are still at home – against New York and Minnesota (not good teams but they’ve been playing well and are formidable by the Pacers’ standards).  The bad news is that after an away game against Philadelphia (and I believe this game is winnable), they face Orlando again (this time at home but the outcome is just about guaranteed to be the same).  Nevertheless, if they can go into the Orlando game with a 5 game winning streak I will be more than satisfied.