The Indiana Pacers are off to their best start in franchise history with a record of 7-0. The Pacers focused this offseason on how to finally knock off the Miami Heat. They believe they have to tools to do just that.
Many analysts predicted the Pacers to finish third in the eastern conference with the Heat taking first and the Chicago Bulls taking second, but it is the Pacers out of the gate the quickest. How did they manage to go 7-0 while playing the Bulls, with Derrick Rose back, and beating one of the most star-heavy teams in the Brooklyn Nets?
The no. 1 reason they are undefeated is no surprise — their defense has been spectacular. They are giving up just 85.3 points per game, and second in the league is the Bulls at 93. Pacers center Roy Hibbert has 4.3 blocks per game and the team is holding their opponents to under 40 percent shooting in their seven games. Yes, it is still early, but the Pacers are demolishing all defensive statistics.
The second reason is the emergence of forward Paul George. After Pacers star forward Danny Granger missed all but five games last year, another forward needed to step up. Just last year, George was handed the Most Improved Player of the Year award and this year, he is already in the running for league MVP.
George is indeed a stat-stuffer with 25.1 points, 7.9 rebounds and four assists per game this season — all while shooting 46 percent from the field, 42 percent from 3-point land and 85 percent from the free throw line.
The third and final reason is what the Pacers worked so hard for this season, and that is boosting their bench. The bench points are mostly the same as last year, but this season is early. There have been many bright spots with Luis Scola and C.J. Watson. Watson is a little more important because of him filling in for guard George Hill for a few games. However, Scola has provided an excellent boost off the bench and has scored in many timely situations for the Pacers. Give this group some more time and they will surely assist the starting five.
The season is young, but the Pacers are just getting started and could make a deep run in the playoffs, possibly knocking off the Heat this year.
Justin Logan is an Indiana Pacers writer for Rant Sports. Add him on Facebook.