For the first time all season, there seems to be a sense of positive feelings about the Indiana Pacers in the power rankings across the league. While numerically, the Pacers fluctuate in the 12-17 range, the good news is the mood for the Pacers and their recent play, including a 3-0 week last week, that has gotten writers in the holiday cheer enough to dish out some optimism about what the Pacers are managing to accomplish.
The Pacers continue to play at a high level defensively and Marc Stein points out in his ESPN rankings that the Pacers lead the league with number of wins under 90 points. Early in the season, the defense was constantly overshadowed by the league's least capable offense, but lately, things have started to come around in a way that benefits the blue and gold's defense. While they aren't lighting up the scoreboard and are shy almost seven points a night compared to last year, they're four better on defense and have a positive point differential.
Paul George has helped a lot of that with his consistency the past couple of weeks, but so too has the year-long contributions from George Hill and David West. Even though the bench still hasn't quite been reliable offensively, Ben Hansbrough's addition has helped with the energy over D.J. Augustin, and has seemed to spark Tyler Hansbrough to better play than he's had for the better part of the season, averaging 7.7 PPG and 5.0 RPG, both above his season averages, on nearly 59% shooting since Ben came into the rotation.
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Seth Rosenthal jumps the Pacers to #16, giving the team their dues for positives in defensive excellence and even sometimes offensive okay-ness, looking at Roy Hibbert's health and play last week as a possible positive.
NBA Basketball Power Rankings - National Basketball Association - ESPN
Marc Stein moves Indiana up to 13th as the Pacers have shown their defense to have carried the bulk of the load, with a league high in wins under 90 points and more road wins than home losses.
The good parts of the 14th ranked Pacers' wins had nice contributions from their key players, including Paul George. Also of note, John Schuhmann shares the Pacers' have played the 3rd easiest schedule ahead of OKC and Philly.
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Indiana are up to 17th according to Kurt Helin, as Paul George showcases his leadership on the floor, while thinking what the Pacers could be if current contributions remain at the same level when Danny Granger returns.
NBA Power Rankings - Top 30 NBA Basketball Teams - FOX Sports on MSN
Sam Amico moves Indiana up seven spots to #12, the highest jump of his rankings, due to the physical play that the Pacers have rediscovered.
2012-2013 Hollinger Power Rankings - ESPN
Though John Hollinger has left ESPN, his rankings remain, as the Pacers sit at #15 as part of their 7-3 record in their last ten games.
Jeff Sagarin NBA ratings - USA TODAY
Indiana is at 14 on the Sagarin ratings, the team's 13-11 record looks better, but the team's 2-8 record against the top half of the league at least suggests they've been better at taking care of business against weaker teams.