As the Pacers proved last year, making a bold deadline deal and appearing to improve on paper doesn't always work out so well.
Among the teams the Pacers are chasing the playoffs with (Charlotte, Miami, Brooklyn, Detroit, Boston), it appears only Miami made a significant upgrade by adding Goran Dragic while also keeping the important parts of their playing rotation. In fact, on paper, the Heat become a significant player in the East even if they don't have time to rise very far in the standings. Of course, that is also contingent on the health of Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade.
As for the rest of that group, Detroit made the least 'meh' move but which will be better judged down the road a couple of years, but not necessarily this year.
The Pistons upgraded their talent at point guard by swapping out D.J. Augustin for Reggie Jackson, but did they improve for the remainder of this season? Jackson has far more upside and a brighter future for Detroit than Augustin. It also could cost the Pistons about $10 million per year more to keep Jackson past this season.
But for the playoff run and how the Pistons are playing, did Detroit improve this year?
After Jennings got hurt, D.J. Augustin scored over 20 PPG while also ranking among the most efficient high-volume scorers in the NBA.— Synergy Sports Tech (@SynergySST) February 19, 2015
Augustin may not have the upside of Jackson, but will Jackson play much better than Augustin has been playing for Detroit? Seems like getting equal value back for this season would be a bonus for Stan Van and crew.
So while the Pacers hit the ground running after the All-Star break the biggest challenge they face in trying to make the playoffs is on their schedule. After playing whatever crew the Sixers put on the floor in Philly on Friday, the Pacers must run the guantlet of home games against Golden State (Sun.) and Cleveland (Fri.) sandwiched around a road game at Oklahoma City. With 28 games remaining, a 16-12 or 17-11 finish would likely be enough to make the playoffs. Starting 2-2 through the first four would be a good start to the stretch run.