The Indiana Pacers have an obvious problem that everyone in the NBA knows about. How can the franchise maneuver enough to get around this shortcoming and at least make the playoffs in the East? The NBA odds show their regular season win total is set at 33.5.
2014-15 Regular Season Total: 33.5
Why the Pacers Will Go Over the Number
The Pacers lose Paul George this season, and they also lose Lance Stephenson, but they built their franchise around defense and the ability of a large roster of players, both the starters and the bench, to get stops. That’s what this team counts on to get wins and move its way up in the NBA world. The Pacers rattled off an amazing list of accomplishments last season on defense. They were first in field goals allowed, field goal percentage, two-point field goal percentage, and assists allowed. They were second in points per game allowed, third in three-pointers allowed, fourth in three-point field goal percentage allowed, fifth in two-point field goals allowed and total rebounds allowed. They were sixth in free throw attempts and made free throws conceded on defense. They did what they did on defense while not fouling, which is the mark of a great defensive team. They finished in the top 10, from 7 through 10, in several other categories. This was an exceptional defensive team, and that’s about a lot more than one or even two players. Roy Hibbert is such an excellent rim protector that losses on the perimeter can be absorbed, and Indiana can still be a fairly effective defensive team. David West remains a nasty, physical, powerful interior defender and rebounder who adds a lot of value to a team. George Hill couldn’t do much on offense, but he was a credible defender. Luis Scola and Ian Mahinmi know where to be on the court as defenders. This team can still be good on defense, and that can go a long way –especially if Hibbert plays well.
Why the Pacers Will Stay Under the Number
When you lose two players as productive as George and Stephenson have been, you’re going to see a dropoff in scoring and other basic offensive stats. Indiana was eighth in free throw percentage last season, and George had something to do with that. The team was in the top half of the league, thirteenth overall, in free throws made, and George and Stephenson were both at the center of that development as well. This team would have been below 20th in a number of offensive metrics had George and Stephenson not carried the workload at times, enabling Indiana to finish seventeenth in three-point shooting percentage and eighteenth in two-pointers attempted, not to mention seventeeth as well in overall field goal percentage. Those numbers are going to plummet, and while Indiana could win a 79-75 game every now and then, the Indiana Pacers are looking at a situation in which they’re going to have to win that kind of game all the time.
Indiana might not win 40 games this season, but it should win more than 35. Take over with your NBA picks.
NBA Pick: Over 33.5