The Pacers survived a strong effort from the visiting Utah Jazz to lock up their fifth win in a row and move to 29-3 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. It certainly wasn't easy and when Gordon Hayward rose up to shoot a three-pointer, it felt like the local legend was going to have another memorable moment at BLF. But Hayward's shot was a tick long and bounced as the buzzer sounded. The end result was W number 46 for the Pacers.
So are the Pacers playing to their level of competition or is the competition raising their game to take on the top team in the East?
According to the post-game quotes from Frank Vogel and players, the team seems to think it is the latter more than the former. The situation reminds me of the Pacers three or four years ago (four or five?), when they would rise up and play incredibly well against the top teams, but then also dump bad games while looking like a different team against lesser opponents. Those teams would often have the lead in a game against elite teams, but inevitably not be able to close the deal down the stretch.
Now the Pacers are on the other end of that equation, stacking up wins in their last five games by taking control at winning time. Although last night against the Jazz, they lost control when Gordon Hayward lifted for the game-tying attempt at the buzzer.
There certainly is confidence to be gained from grinding out wins in a do-whatever-it-takes fashion. Now over the remainder of the week with four playoff teams up next, we will see just how much confidence the Pacers have and how well they are playing.
At some point, they have to raise their level of play just as their opponents have of late.
Also, I chat about Evan Turner's first couple of games and the Pacers upcoming week on The Phil Naessens Show. Check it out.
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