The trade deadline has come and gone. Wisely, the Pacers chose not to move Danny Granger. With Paul George raising his game in Granger’s absence, the Pacers are looking pretty moving forward. George was an All Star, and proved he deserved to be there. He didn’t shy away from the superduperstars, and played well in the game. That performance helped eliminate any doubt that he is ready to accept his role as the leader on the court for the Pacers. This is exciting news for the Pacers fanbase because it allows Danny the opportunity to truly ease his way back into the flow of the things. In years past, he may have been tempted to come back before he was truly ready because the Pacers could not produce without him. This is not the case anymore.
Going forward, the Pacers are a force to be reckoned with. The rest of the East, sans the Heat, should be shakin’ in their collective boots. Right now the Pacers are third in the East, behind the Heat and Knicks, but are charging hard. The Pacers are only a half game behind the Knicks for second place, despite the two teams having polar opposite starts to the campaign. The Pacers started out 10-11, while the Knicks came out guns blazin’, and sat at 18-5 at one point. The tables have turned, and the Pacers look like the second best team in the Eastern conference.
Since mid-December, the Pacers have dominated the East, collecting big scalps along the way. They’ve knocked off the Heat, Bulls, and Knicks twice each. Given the Pacers six game deficit behind Miami, and Miami’s current 8 game winning streak (last loss against the Pacers by the way), reaching the top spot in the conference is probably out of the question. Earning the second seed wouldn’t be the worst thing that’s happened. If the Pacers can get home court for the first two rounds of the playoffs, no team poses a huge threat to Indiana. The Pacers have the fourth best home record in the league.
All-in-all, the Pacers’ outlook is very bright. Their best player looks like a superstar in the making, whose potential hasn’t been reached. They get back their emotional leader, which adds incredible depth, whether or not he comes off the bench or starts. These last 28 games provide the Pacers with an opportunity to play some big games, both at home and on the road. The goal will be to play well in those games and start turning heads around the league.