The Indiana Pacers will be concluding their Western Conference road trip tonight against the Los Angeles Clippers. They look to go 4-0 on a Western Conference swing since….. Well, it’s been a while. However this is not just a feat that any mediocre team can accomplish. The significants of the Pacers going 4-0 on their journey to the West is an accomplishment that the likes of any Eastern Conference team would be proud of. Why is that you ask? Well, while the Pacers are battling it out for second place with the New York Knicks in the Eastern Conference, they would be near the bottom of the playoff race in the West. They would be the 6th seed to be exact, behind the likes of San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Denver, L.A. (Clippers), and Memphis.
Now that the disparity between the talent of the two conferences has been established, the feat of even having the opportunity to be on the cusp of a 4-0 road trip is a great accomplishment in itself. An accomplishment that pitted the Pacers against two Western Conference teams who need every win they can get to stay in playoff contention, and a team that has nothing to lose which is dangerous in its own right.
The Los Angeles Clippers are in no danger of missing the playoff, thanks to the San Antonio Spurs for their win over Utah, but they are a team that believes that they can contend for a title. They have already beaten the Pacers once and I am sure they have no intentions on losing the game tonight. A win over L.A., concluding the four game West Coast trip at very least confirms the Pacers arrival among the elite. Not just any team can go out and beat Dallas, Houston, and L.A. in convincing fashion. This is a statement game. A statement to not only the L.A. Clippers, not only the Western Conference, but to the entire NBA that says, “We can win a Championship”.
With six Pacers averaging in double figures in points the last three (most notably Paul George’s 21.6, Roy Hibbert’s 21.3, and Tyler Hansbrough stepping up with 11.3 off the bench), not to mention Roy Hibbert being the 20/10 center that we all know he can be while shutting it down in the paint on the defensive end, the Pacers look poised for a win tonight and a nice long playoff run soon there after.
After tonight, the team gets a well deserved three day rest before they play against another Western juggernaut in the Oklahoma City Thunder. Only six games remain in the NBA season after that. As the playoffs near, the Pacers are looking more and more like a team that is fine tuned and ready to make a statement in the playoffs. If you’ve been skeptical about how good the Pacers are the last two seasons, they certainly aren’t leaving a whole lot of room for debate.