The Indiana Pacers win over the Cleveland Cavaliers last night counts as a victory in a key game that we can look back on at the end of the season as determining whether or not the Pacers made the playoffs.
The Pacers will have a lot of these types of games this year and by my count they are 2-2 so far this season. I'm talking about games against non-elite teams when the outcome could go either way with the winner determined by the team that executes and makes winning plays down the stretch. Let's call them 50/50 games.
So I don't count the first loss at San Antonio because beating the Spurs at home would always take an extraordinary effort from this Pacers team. I also don't count the blow-out wins over Philadelphia and Denver because there are nights when everything is flowing well and you catch the other team on their heels. Those wins are a given, as are losses like the hurl-worthy effort the Pacers had at Philadelphia when they weren't ready to play and the Sixers had it flowing.
But consider the two brutal losses to Milwaukee and Houston, when the game was up for grabs in the fourth quarter and the Pacers couldn't make the plays to win. Those are the types of losses that will stand out at the end of the year if the Pacers don't make the playoffs, so minimizing those losses is obviously critical.
Of course, you can't just consider the negative because the Pacers swooped in and stole a nice win at Charlotte earlier in the year and then last night took care of business down the stretch at Cleveland. You can't really look at the schedule and determine how many of these 50/50 games the team will have because how the game plays out is part of the equation. But the Pacers should have their fair share and you'll know it when you see it.
Developing some consistency from night to night will help the Pacers avoid the outlier blowout losses and give them a chance to win more often. Once they have a chance, it comes down to execution and play-makers stepping up to make plays. Last night, Danny Granger and Mike Dunleavy made it look easy. Let's just hope the 50/50 record rises above .500 as the Pacers head into a more difficult stretch of their schedule.
After the jump, a few links of interest from last night's win including an update on Tyler Hansbrough's ankle and the playing status of A.J. Price and Lance Stephenson. Also, I'd like your thoughts on NBA Playbook's take on a mental gaffe by Mike Dunleavy in Friday's loss.
- Box score
Defense saves the game
Mike Wells reports on the defensive effort the Pacers' leaned on to close out the W last night.
Sam Amico reports his notes from Cleveland.
- Hoopdata Advanced Box Score - Indiana Pacers vs Cleveland Cavaliers 11/13/2010
Half-effort leaves Cleveland Cavaliers at complete loss against Indiana Pacers
Mary Schmitt Boyer reports on the Cavs getting closed out by the Pacers.
- AP: Granger's 34 lead Pacers past Cavaliers 99-85
Indiana Looks Good While Winning in Cleveland
Jared Wade liked what he saw from the Pacers in their bounce-back win over the Cavs.
PACERS: Things I thought I'd see before 54 in a quarter
In the first installment of his new blog on Pacers.com, radio play-by-play icon Mark Boyle shares his thoughts on the list of things he thought he'd see before a 54-point, 20-for-21 quarter like the Pacers put forth Tuesday night against Denver.
Posey knows Cleveland's pain
Mike Wells shares some notes including an update on Tyler Hansbrough's ankle sprain which isn't expected to keep him out long.
Stephenson and Price will have to wait their turn
Mike Wells shares some info on A.J. Price and Lance Stephenson likely staying in street clothes barring an injury.
A Bonehead Play Keeps Indiana From Getting A Clean Look To Tie The Game
Sebastian Pruiti at NBA Playbook takes Mike Dunleavy for task for a late-game gaffe against the Bucks on Friday. I might even agree if I didn't know the likelyhood of the Pacers mucking up a sideline out of bounds play was just as great with that much time left on the clock.
The Point Forward " Posts Early verdict on some less-heralded moves
The Pacers move to acquire James Posey and Darren Collison is among the moves reviewed although likely done before the last two games in which Posey played a strong role for the Pacers.