Without a lot of new revelations this week regarding the Indiana Pacers and their recent play, they've reached a bit of an apex despite falling to (and behind) the Los Angeles Clippers, hovering in the 5-6 range in all of the following power ranking polls. It's not entirely surprising the focus with the Pacers is so scattershot on a national level; there isn't a single thing you can look at with Indiana when talking about their 12-3 record since coming home in late January. In fact, not a single ranking makes note of the same player.
The only unfortunate thing about that is no one making note of George Hill, who's been the unsung hero in recent efforts, shooting nearly 57% in the last seven games while posting a 6.3 assist/turnover ratio with no turnovers in three games before his three against Chicago on Sunday. John Schuhmann makes the biggest note for Indiana's entire starting five, and there may not be a better starting five in the league. There certainly isn't if you're looking at Bill Simmons's plus/minus stats.
But that only outlines how big of a dropoff the Pacers have and are experiencing with their bench. The second unit scored a total of eight points on Sunday, forcing the starters into heavy minutes, and losing Danny Granger in the first half due to his knee doesn't help that cause at all. While the national media is slowing picking up on Indiana as "The Destined Ones" that could dethrone the defending champions, they're not getting there without help from the second unit. But Danny aside, where does it come from? Does it come?
Maybe it's too doom and gloom to dwell on the bench struggles given the team's recent string of success, but it's hard not to think about it, especially with Sunday's game against those very champions. Miami could be on a 17-game winning streak, full attention against a team they're 0-2 against, full attention to not allow Indiana to bring their winning streak full circle. And Indiana isn't going to win on the road on Sunday without help from the bench. So let's hope to see some steps of progress this week against Boston and Orlando, even though steps of progress wouldn't instill any real confidence for Sunday's showcase.
NBA Basketball Power Rankings - National Basketball Association - ESPN
The Pacers drop a spot to 5th, with Marc Stein finding a pair of red flags: Paul George's road scoring average and the team's road losing record.
John Schuhmann likes what the starting unit for the #5 Pacers have shown, especially in recent games with an improving offense and a better point differential than Miami during Miami's winning streak.
Kurt Helin is on the "pay David West" bandwagon, a sentiment the fifth ranked Pacers front office almost assuredly shares.
NBA Power Rankings - Top 30 NBA Basketball Teams - FOX Sports on MSN
The Pacers hold at No. 6, Sam Amico outlining the team's fearlessness of the only team ahead of them in the Eastern Conference.
2012-2013 Hollinger Power Rankings - ESPN
Indiana sits at #6, and while John Schuhmann noted the Pacers have a better point differential than Miami in their winning streak, they're +0.13 shy of the Heat for league best in the past ten games.
Jeff Sagarin NBA ratings - USA TODAY
The Pacers are No. 6 in Sagrin's rantings, improving that record against other top ten teams to 9-6.