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Pacers early season surprise: Inconsistent play leads to unreliable results

Inconsistent play throughout the Pacers playing rotation leaves the team searching for different ways to win.

Kevin C. Cox

So what has been the biggest surprise for the Indiana Pacers through their first 12 games?

As part of the SB Nation NBA's early season surprise theme today, I found this question hard to answer. Well, from a positive angle. Actually, pinpointing a surprising negative was also a challenge since there was plenty of head-scratching to go around.

So for me, the general, game-to-game inconsistency throughout the roster is the biggest surprise. The Pacers are 5-7, but they could be 8-4 with a little better play down the stretch. They could just as easily by 2-10 if not for some late game heroics to secure a few wins.

David West has been hands-down the most positive force for the Pacers, literally carrying them to wins on the road over Toronto and Washington. Therein lies one of the many early season surprises. The Pacers needed a monster effort from West to carry them to road wins over the Raptors and Wizards.

But even DWest has been inconsistent, drudging through a three-game stretch where he made just 10 of 37 shots. Hopefully, that's not a sign that West's endurance will be a factor throughout the season, but his last effort against Washington put those worries to rest for now.

Whether it is Paul George, George Hill, Ian Mahinmi or Gerald Green, the inconsistent production has kept the Pacers sputtering. They can't settle into a style of play they can rely on when the going gets tough.

Instead of picking up where they left off last season, the Pacers started back at ground zero. Without Danny Granger to help on offense, the Pacers are far from the hard-working, take-on-all-challenges, this-is-what-we-do team that annoyed all opponents in glorious fashion to finish the season last year.

With a few new faces the Pacers seem to have trouble relying on one another when things start going sideways. Surprises abound when a player or two isn't in the right spot forcing everyone to start thinking instead of playing.

This is a team that relies on a full team effort at both ends, with no superstars to lean on. Eventually everyone in the playing rotation needs to settle into their role and do their job on a consistent basis or the end results will be even more surprising.