The Indiana Pacers took part in their first nationwide game on ESPN this season, with an early afternoon start time to help kick off a long list of basketball games on the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. memorial holiday. The Pacers topped the Memphis Grizzlies in a sloppy 82-81 win to begin a long road trip. The road win was important for a couple of reasons. Indiana has only had two nationally televised games this season, but has won them both. The win in Memphis was also only the second time this season that the Pacers have defeated a playoff-caliber team on the road.
The trip gets no easier from here. The Pacers will have to travel out west for the next three games, traveling to Portland, Utah, and Denver in the next week. Indiana won’t have a home game until a week from Wednesday. This long road trip against decent Western Conference teams could easily help make, break, or mold this young team, as they try to emerge in their own division and conference.
The Pacers lead the league in defense, holding teams to an average of under 90 points a game. The flip side to this is the fact that the Pacers find themselves near the bottom of the league in scoring offense. The difference this season from seasons in the past for this team is that they are now winning these low-scoring games. In the last five years, Indiana has only won six games when scoring under 90 points. This season, the Pacers have already won 10 games when scoring 90 points or less. These dynamics are impressive, and shows a team that can find a way to win any game at any time.