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Pacers Talking About Playoffs?

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Where's Jim Mora when you need him?

Mike Wells goes there in today's Star using a little simple math to deduce that the Indiana Pacers are a minor winning streak away from returning to the Eastern Conference playoff picture, currently standing just four games out as they prepare to play in Minnesota tonight.

Jim O'Brien actually offers a Mora-esque response, just without the Youtube-classic-future-commercial-worthy flavor.

"What has happened to a large extent over the past couple of weeks is downright irrelevant from the standpoint of our guys getting out and competing for a win," O'Brien said. "You can talk all you want about this didn't happen well or that didn't happen well or this guy's hurt; it's meaningless.

"Get a win. Get a win. That's it. Now, if we can start getting ourselves in a position where we feel that we're playing solidly, then we can talk about where we are within the East."

T.J. Ford lets loose my favorite quote on the topic from the players. I guess it's a lot easier to cut to the core truth from the end of the bench.

"There's just a lot of bad teams. What else can I say?" benched point guard T.J. Ford said last week.

Nothing else needs to be said, T.J., as long as you realize you just called the Pacers a bad team.


Another item brought to my attention in an email which I keep forgetting to links was this story from the Wall Street Journal about the NBA relying on three-point shooters as a cap-friendly option to score points.

The stat (eFG%) pointed to a simple truth that many league executives swear by today: a cheap sharp shooter who makes 33% of his three-point shots (a pretty common benchmark) is just as valuable as a big man who makes half of his two-point shots—a feat that isn't accomplished nearly as often.

As word spread, NBA teams slowly started adding shooters. Geoff Petrie, the Sacramento Kings' president of basketball operations, estimates that most teams have twice the number of accurate three-point shooters that they did in the 1990s. "These guys have flooded the market," he says.

Still, the supply seemed to outpace the demand—keeping the costs relatively low. Five years ago, the most accurate everyday three-point shooters made about $8.8 million each, which is 15% more than this year's crop.

The top 30 three-point shooters this year—not including the ones on predetermined rookie contracts—are pulling down about $7.5 million each, which is as much as 50% less than the leaders in every other common statistical category.

The jury's still out as to whether three-pointers help teams win games. In the past decade, the correlation between the number of threes a team makes and its winning percentage is a relatively weak 0.3 on a scale where 1 shows a direct relationship and 0 shows no relationship at all.

Looks like the Pacers are bucking the trend laid out in this article. They have three-point shooters making big money (Troy Murphy, Mike Dunleavy) and found that to go really cheap, you have to bring in guys who can't shoot the three real well (Earl Watson, Dahntay Jones). Right now, I'm happy with pounding it into Roy Hibbert for a little, four-foot jump hook.