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NBA Indiana Pacers

David West At His Best Makes Indiana Pacers NBA Title Contenders

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

David West would like to think the Indiana Pacers will pose the biggest threat to the Miami Heat in the NBA East playoffs this season.

He’s probably right. The Pacers definitely took a step in that direction with Sunday’s 97-92 win over the Chicago Bulls.

Granted, it’s just a regular-season game. But the Pacers now have a four-game lead over Chicago in the  Central Division, and have secured the tie-breaker if necessary – so it’s Indiana’s to lose. Very few individuals predicted the Pacers would be better than the Bulls this season. There’s plenty of factors for that, No. 1 being the outstanding play of  West.

Against the Bulls in a pressure-packed game, West was extremely cool with 31 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter. The Pacers couldn’t have asked for a much better performance under the circumstances.

West was almost perfect in his 36 minutes of action. He was 11-of-18 from the floor and 9-of-9 in free throws while also grabbing seven rebounds and two steals.

But it’s been typical of what West has accomplished all season. He’s averaging 17.7 points, 7.6 rebounds and 3.0 assists a game. His shooting average remains healthy at 49.3 percent. It’s been around 50 percent his entire career, which has always made West a dangerous player.

Against the Bulls, West knew what was at stake and the pressure of the game brought out the best in him.

That’s why the Pacers have a chance to make a strong run in the playoffs this season. If West plays at his best, then Indiana will also be at its best.