The Indiana Pacers are currently engaged in one of the tightest and interesting races in the NBA standings that no one wants to talk about.
Well, no one in the NBA or at the Fieldhouse.
Mike Wells expounds on the merits of losing for the Pacers after their 0-4 road trip finds them with the fourth worst record in the NBA. At this point in the season, the Pacers' current poor standing is good news, however, the race to the bottom is extremely tight with only 2.5 games separating the fourth through eighth place teams in the reciprocal lottery standings where bad is good.
Normally, when following a tight playoff race, it's common to compare the number of losses teams have when they haven't played the same amount of games. I take the opposite approach with this mess and count wins. So even though the Washington Wizards are 2.5 games ahead of the Pacers in the real standing right now, they only have one more win (21) so their late game implosion in Boston last night hurt. Along with the Wiz, the New York Knicks and Sacramento Kings have 21 wins while the Detroit Pistons have 22.
Adjust your allegiances and rooting interests accordingly. I know, it may feel wrong but in the end it's right.
The Philadelphia 76ers are the ninth team in the mix and they only have 23 wins to the Pacers 20. Of course, they have some solid young talent that is actually playing, so when they play well and win the team moves forward. The Sixers will be in town tomorrow night for one of the few good matchups the Pacers have had in the past couple of weeks.
Jim O'Brien continues to preach his play to win philosophy although he phrases it in a way that could lead to a win-win for the Pacers (which really means win-lose) if he actually followed through completely.
"Our goal is to still try to win every game while also developing our young players," O'Brien said.
Two components to that statement: trying to win and developing young players.
If JOB would let loose with playing time for all of the young players and bump up the minutes of A.J. Price and Josh McRoberts to go along with Roy Hibbert and Brandon Rush, then the wins and losses would likely take care of themselves while these guys still tried like crazy to win.
I wouldn't begrudge any W's if these young guys played 25-30 minutes and put together a winning effort. In fact, it would be pretty fun to watch.
Regardless, of where the Pacers finish they'll still need plenty of lottery luck to hit it big in the NBA draft. Considering the Pacers are looking at a win total in the mid-20s, their chances of getting lucky will be pretty good at worst.
I think that's right, even though it feels wrong.