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IC Cold Links: Foster, Dunleavy Help Pacers Strike A Balance With Youth Movement

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The Indiana Pacers' past two wins over the Philadelphia 76ers and injury-ravaged Dallas Mavericks won't go down in franchise lore, but they may be remembered this season as the turning point when Jim O'Brien found a way to strike a nice balance between utilizing the talents of his young players while still putting his team in the best position to win games.

Bob Kravitz gives JOB his due for finally filling his playing rotation with key young players, namely Tyler Hansbrough, Paul George and Darren Collison, extracting their energy, expanding their role when warranted and managing the inconsistency when not.

The past two wins weren't about the opponents but about the Pacers continuing to defend well and then finding an offensive flow that created more good shot opportunities which usually meant more made shots.

While the youth gets credit for stepping up, Jeff Foster and Mike Dunleavy deserve credit for being the steadying force in the playing rotation, helping to fill in those inconsistent gaps left by the young guys. Dunleavy is there to cover up for Brandon Rush or George and then close out games. Foster can help spackle over rough nights from Tyler Hansbrough or Roy Hibbert.

JOB has been able to compromise by giving young guys the opportunity and riding them when they have it going (Hansbrough against the Spurs, George against the Mavs) but then limiting the when they don't. This will give the Pacers the best opportunity to play well each night and compete for wins on a consistent basis. Striving towards consistency should be the goal for this young team regardless of the opponent because the wins will take care of themselve in the East, if that's the case.

After the jump, a few more links of interest.