Coming into the season, the Indiana Pacers were a team with a lot of questions. In fact, they had more questions than answers. With the departure of big men David West, Luis Scola and Roy Hibbert (via trade), mixed with the return of star forward Paul George, whose coming off of the worst injuries in NBA history, we didn't know what to expect from the team. NBA experts had the Pacers projected to be a sub-par team that will barely be in the playoff hunt with about 30-35 wins on the season. And after watching the first three games of the season, with Paul George playing terrible basketball and team playing under achieving defense, it looked as if the projection was accurate after the Pacers dropped the first three games of the season by an average of 12 points a game. Boy, have things changed.
Now 15 games into the season, the Pacers have turned an 0-3 record to 10-5, winning 10 of their last 12 games and now are second in the Eastern Conference, sitting one game behind the Cleveland Cavaliers. With the offense finally showing life - they are averaging 102 points per game (13th in NBA) while shooting 40 percent from the three-point line (second in NBA) - opposing teams are almost forced to play outside their comfort zone to keep up with the Pacers offense. And that hasn't been working out for opposing teams. After beginning the season playing dreadful defense, they currently hold opposing teams to only 95 point per game on 43 percent shooting (fourth in NBA). They also boast the leagues most active defense, forcing 18 turnovers a game (tied-first in NBA).
A lot of the Pacers' recent success has been because of the triumphant return of Paul George. To say he hasn't been playing at an MVP level would almost be an understatement. At first, he was skeptical about the switch to power forward and in the beginning, he really struggled to find his offense. In the first three games of the season, he averaged 17 points on 35 percent shooting from field and a horrid 16 percent from downtown. But since then, he just hasn't looked back. In the last 11 games, he's averaging 30 points, nine rebounds and five assists while shooting 48 percent from the field and an unbelievable 51 percent from three-point land.
To go along with his offense, he's also been an even better lockdown defender than he was before the injury - racking up two steals per game and causing five total turnovers per game. But he hasn't been the only one. Sharpshooter C.J. Miles has been completely lights out the last few games. In the last five games, he's averaging 22 points and shooting 53 percent from the field, and get ready for this... 56 percent from three-point land. These two combined have been absolutely unbelievable. The two combined average six made three-pointers per game, second to only Golden State's Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson who average seven.
The sky is the limit for this years Pacers team. Because of their recent success, they are now projected to win 50+ games this season. With the blend of an explosive offense and a disruptive defense, it'll be very hard for teams to keep up with them on the court. They are one of the most exciting teams in the NBA to watch and as the season goes on, they will only get better.