[From the FanPosts, Glenn A. raises an interesting point that even though the end results in the win/loss column are similar, the Indiana Pacers have different feel about them this season. -TL]
Aw shucks, for a moment there it really looked like the Pacers were poised to pull off a gutsy win against one of the East's best, but a familiar fate is realized and we see the Blue and Gold unable to make enough plays offensively and defensively to win.
So...after 11 games, Indy sits in an all-too-familiar position: Hovering around .500 with a win here and a few losses there. Despite the seemingly normal mediocre routine, many fans have mentioned something is different about this team (myself included). Justifying such a viewpoint is a difficult proposition considering the results so far have been pretty much par for the course compared to what we've seen the past 3-4 years.
So, what's different? And how do you justify why you think things are different? Here are a just a few of my own ideas.
Roy Hibbert: This one is pretty obvious. In my mind, Hibbert's development has easily been the most positive development surrounding the team so far this season. You just can't minimize how crucial it is to have a legitimate post presence (whether it be offensive or defensive) in this league, and Hibbert looks to be establishing himself as such. Hibbert's development hasn't necessarily translated into a substantial W/L improvement, but the mere fact that the option of a consistent low-post presence exists lends some much needed optimism.
Swagger/chemistry:Maybe it's just me, but these Pacers appear to exude much less sulk and disinterest and much more focus, passion, and confidence (with the exception of the Philly game, of course). Again, it hasn't translated to more wins than in the past, but you could argue in order to start winning, you first need to start developing the mindset that you can win. And if you look at the demeanor of Big Roy, Granger, etc. you get the impression they're starting to turn the corner mentally, or at the very least, they're putting on their best face to convince themselves that they can and will win each game. This is something to keep an eye on as the season progresses.
Along with that swagger, you get the impression that these guys are a more close-knit group than what we've seen in the past. They look like they trust each other and they look like they genuinely enjoy playing with another. In the first half against Orlando, there was a stoppage in play and both teams were relegated to their respective benches. They showed a shot of the Pacers huddle and there was Big Roy with his long arms stretched around the necks of his teammates as they were all anxiously engaged in JOB's counsel. It may not have have meant anything at all, but I just don't remember seeing that type of camaraderie on this team in a long while.
Those are just a few of my thoughts. Has anyone noticed anything else?