The Indiana Pacers aren't an organization surrounded by as much glamour other bigger markets. The team has been known to be consistently competitive, never quite bottoming out (the last time they had a season with under 30 wins was 1989) and only seriously in the mix for a championship twice in the 21st century (eliminated in the Eastern Conference Finals in 2004 and 2014).
I'm just gonna get straight to the point. I love this Pacers team. They have played so well together this season. Unselfish, team basketball is so fitting in terms of the brand of "Indiana basketball." They rank 5th in total assists per game (26.1) and 1st in assist to turnover ratio (2.1).
Nate McMillan has coached this team with a system that has been successful for years now. The combo of Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis was predicted to fail but McMillan has made it work. Sabonis has blossomed into an All-Star and Turner is an elite defender.
Offseason acquisitions Malcolm Brogdon and TJ Warren has given Indiana some go to scorers that I feel they were lacking last year when they were swept by the Celtics. Brogdon was good enough early in the season to have been considered as an All-Star and Warren is super reliable as a scorer and competent outside shooter.
All these things that have gone right for the Pacers this year and I haven’t even mentioned their biggest X-factor: Victor Oladipo.
Oladipo is the man in Indiana. He is the go-to guy and he is just now coming back from his leg injury from last year. To be a real contender for a title, you need that guy who is gonna take over in the crunch time of an elimination game. Someone who, when the rest of time is slumping, will step up in the brightest spots to what the team need to secure a win.
Oladipo, when he was healthy, was legitimately a top 10-12 player in the league. He has what it takes to be the best player on a championship team, and right now he is surrounded by the best supporting cast he has ever had in Indiana.
This is assuming, of course, that he returns to his dominant self that we saw before his injury. He has not yet hit the 20 point mark yet as they integrate him into an offense that was running relatively smoothly before he returned.
I have faith is Oladipo as a guy that can win important games as the number one option for a team and I love the players surrounding him. Sabonis has been a personal favorite of mine. The pick and roll between the two of them has some great potential to become deadly and I will not be surprised if the Pacers knock off a contender or two when they start to really put it all together, ideally with Oladipo leading the charge.