I really shouldn’t be this excited for a two-game win streak, but after watching the Indiana Pacers begin the preseason 0-for-5, I was beginning to get a little worried. Oh, how quickly two victories can erase the rest of the preseason memories and remind us why the Pacers were considered a serious championship contender this year.
It was hard to watch as the Pacers fell to Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls, and then Dwight Howard and the Houston Rockets. The Bulls are considered, by most, to be the second-best team in the East which, in my mind, they have proven during the preseason. But that was the Pacers spot just six months ago, and one they should not have lost in the offseason just because Rose was returning.
The two losses to the Bulls really put a damper on that rivalry, at least until they play again in the regular season. The two losses to the Rockets weren’t completely meaningful, but they were a team the Pacers could have easily beat last season, but didn’t come close during the preseason.
Then the Cleveland Cavaliers and Atlanta Hawks came along to right the ship and put the Pacers and their fans back on the path to greatness. The Pacers cracked 100 points for the first time this preseason against the Cavaliers (102-79), and then again against the Hawks (107-89). They were also the first games the Pacers held their opponent under 90 points since the first preseason game against the Bulls.
So, what changed?
Well, first the Pacers started shooting better; 44.7 percent against Cleveland and 52.6 percent against Atlanta. Secondly they turned the ball over less; 13 times against Cleveland and 15 times against Atlanta. And lastly, their bench finally started playing like many were hoping they would; 54 points against Cleveland and 50 against Atlanta.
It certainly doesn’t look good when the team begins to fire on all cylinders when Danny Granger goes down with another injury. Could the Pacers be dealing with their own “Ewing Theory?” No one can really say for sure, but the evidence is there.
The Pacers have one final preseason tune-up game with the Dallas Mavericks before the wins and losses begin to matter. At least they are beginning to look like the Pacers of old and not continuing down the spiral they found themselves in.