With the Pacers traveling to Cleveland for a battle with the Cavaliers, I wanted to give a look at how the Pacers have handled the other divisional foes this season. Only five games into the divisional battles, but winning the division is the ultimate goal for this team, so getting a leg up is important. Right now, the Pacers are 3-2 against the other teams, and 2 of those losses came at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks. Two meetings up in Milwaukee that the Pacers couldn’t get the job done. But getting an early season win against the Bulls could go a long way in overcoming the Bulls for the title.
Indiana Pacers vs. Chicago Bulls (Pacers Lead Series 1-0)
The Pacers right now sit just one game back of the Bulls, and look to be up one game in the season series. Paul George really carried the team in that first meeting as he was making shots from everywhere, and went on to score 34 points. This was the game after he went scoreless in a game previously, so it was very important for him to get on track. The Bulls are still figuring out how to make things work without Derrick Rose, and somehow find themselves leading the division. If the Pacers can finally get that momentum that us fans can see them getting, the Pacers should take this division lead. The next three games against the Bulls should have that playoff like atmosphere as both teams seek to get a win over the other. Want something to do the day after Christmas, Pacers and Bulls play in Indy. Let’s see who’s in the Christmas spirit that game.
Indiana Pacers vs. Milwaukee Bucks (Bucks Lead Series 2-0)
The Pacers can’t figure out how to beat this Bucks team as they’re down 2 games in the series after two meetings up in Milwaukee. Maybe the friendly confines of Banker’s Life Fieldhouse will give the Pacers that spark to beat this team. The Bucks handled the Pacers in that first meeting by double figures. The next meeting was a bit closer, but the Pacers couldn’t get over that hump. They will have to figure out how to slow down Brandon Jennings who put up 34 points in the meeting. He’s a tough guard any game, but looked to really will the Bucks to this last win. These teams won’t meet till after the new year, so I’ll be interested to see where they both are in a couple of weeks.
Indiana Pacers vs. Detroit Pistons (Pacers Lead Series 1-0)
This was a good win for the Pacers as they lost Roy Hibbert to injury right before halftime, and he didn’t return. Jeff Pendergraph and Tyler Hansbrough really stepped up in his absence. They didn’t get many points, but filling in to slow down the Pistons helped out a ton. The Pacers held the Pistons to 17 points in that fourth quarter to put the game away. Paul George filled his stat sheet with 15 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists. David West was his usual productive self with 23 points. A team effort all around that got the Pacers 2 games over .500 for that moment. These teams have a while before meeting again as they’ll not meet until January 30th. I look for the Pacers to be a much improved team by then, and can put away the Pistons in this game and series.
Indiana Pacers vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (Pacers Lead Series 1-0)
The Pacers let C.J. Miles get 28 points in this game for the Cavs, but that defense of the Pacers erased a 16 point lead and put the clamp down on the Cavs in that second half. The Cavs put up 23 points TOTAL in the second half. That’s the lowest half total allowed by the Pacers since they became the Pacers. This is the type of defense that has kept the Pacers alive in games where the offense is sputtering. This was just a great defensive effort, and shows that this Pacers team can turn that switch when they get going. Tonight’s meeting should be more of the same as the Cavs have only won 5 games. This is a winnable game for the Pacers, and it should be another double figures win.