The Indiana Pacers became the first team in the NBA in the 2013-14 season to reach 20 wins with a surprisingly close 99-94 win over the Charlotte Bobcats on Friday night. The Pacers have looked like arguably the best team in the league over their 20-3 start to the season and have looked much improved from last season.
The Pacers have undoubtedly been led by Paul George this season, who has lived up to his billing as a potential superstar so far. However, on Friday night, the Bobcats were able to effectively limit George’s effectiveness, on offense at least. George finished the night with just 10 point, four rebounds and five assist on only 2-12 shooting from the floor and 1-6 shooting from long-range.
George’s lack of production in this game, though, actually speaks volumes about this Pacers’ team as a whole as they were able to still pull out the victory without their star playing at a high level. Their role players stepped up all around and their bench, which they made an effort to improve this offseason, also contributed to the winning effort.
Last season, George scored 10 points or fewer on 13 different occasions. The Pacers were a mere 6-7 in those games with only two of those wins coming against playoff teams. This was the first game of this season where George scored 10 points or fewer and they are obviously 1-0 on the year in that situation.
Charlotte may not be an upper-tier opponent, but they are a solid defensive team that has a legitimate shot of making the postseason in the weak Eastern Conference. Though it’s just a relatively meaningless game in December, the Pacers’ win on Friday only confirms that the Pacers are a contender this season. More importantly, they showed they can win close games in other ways than George going off.