The Pacers are peaking at exactly the right time. They compiled the league's best win percentage in the month of February (0.777), per Pacers.com. Frank Vogel was yesterday named the Eastern Conference's coach of the month for February. George Hill was nominated for Eastern Conference player of the week honors. Paul George practiced and the Pacers are 8-2 since Larry Bird vowed that the team wasn't going to hold him back.
Though the Eastern Conference playoff standings remain fluid, the team's recent stretch of play should leave fans encouraged.
Here are 10 numbers that best showcase the Pacers' recent surge:
48.1: Rodney Stuckey's 3-point percentage. Over the last 10 games, No. 2 is shooting 10% above his season average (38.1%) and 18.4% above his career average (29.7%). Averaging 15.5 points per game over that same span of time, it is safe to say that Stuckey is proving himself worth every penny of the 1-year/NBA veteran's minimum salary the Pacers are paying him and then some.
16.6: C.J. Miles' Net Rating, the highest of any Pacer since February 4. Good things happen for the Pacers when C.J. Miles is on the floor. When joined on the court by George Hill, Rodney Stuckey, David West and Roy Hibbert, that 5-man unit is outscoring opponents by 19.6 points per 100 possessions. Replace West with Luis Scola and, in only 16 minutes of court time, that group is putting up a mammoth 161.0 points per 100 possessions and outscoring opponents by 96.2 points per 100 possessions. Likewise, when Ian Mahinmi replaces Roy Hibbert and Solomon Hill replaces Stuckey, that lineup is posting a monstrous Net Rating of 102.7 -- the best Net Rating of any lineup used by Frank Vogel for at least 15 minutes over the last 10 games. What do all of these lineups have in common? Answer: Miles and George Hill.
5.0: Speaking of George Hill, he's driving the ball 2.3 more times per game this year (5.0) than he did last season (2.7), per NBA.com's Player Tracking. In other words, nobody is putting Aggressive George Hill (as he is fondly referred to as) in the corner. "I sold that real estate," George Hill told Vigilant Sports' Scott Agness prior to the season's start with regard to his old, shall we term it, 'wait for the ball to finally come his way' role last season. "It was a bad view, it didn't make a lot of money so I kind of lost on it so I sold it." Instead, Hill -- who still has room for improvement as compared to some of league's most aggressive drivers at his position (i.e. Damian Lillard's 9.7 drives per game) -- is slowly but surely looking for his own shot and creating more easy drive and dish options for his teammates.
18.4: The Pacers' assist ratio, second to only the league-leading Golden State Warriors over the last 10 games. Indiana, perhaps even more last season, is a team that should pride itself on being a balanced attack. No player on the Pacers' roster is averaging more than 11.7 field goal attempts per game since February 4.
105.8: Offensive rating, Indiana is scoring 105.8 points per 100 possessions over the last 10 games. This is a stark improvement when compared to the team's overall rating (99.3) for the season. While compiling the league's best record over the last 10 games, the Pacers' offensive rating has skyrocketed to fifth-best in the NBA over that same span of time.
55.1: Indiana's true shooting percentage -- a shooting percentage that is adjusted to include the value of three pointers and free throws -- over the last 10 games, which ranks 4th in the NBA during that time frame. On the year, Indiana has no one on their roster shooting over 40% from three-point range, (minimum two attempts per game). During this 8-2 stretch, they have two (Rodney Stuckey and Damjan Rudez).
11.7: Roy Hibbert's offensive rebounding percentage. Since February 4, the Big Dawg is grabbing the highest percentage of his team's misses, (minimum 20 minutes per game played).
4: The number of wins Indiana earned against teams below .500 during this stretch. In January, the Pacers, rather infamously, lost three could-be pivotal games against the Lakers (1/04), Sixers (1/10), and Timberwolves (1/13) in a little over a week's time. Instead of falling back into old patterns, the Pacers -- now with their health -- have made a conscious effort to come away with wins they should win. "If we think too much ahead and think about the schedule, playing at home and playing sub .500 teams," Scola told the Indy Star's Candace Buckner after his team's recent win against the Philadelphia 76ers, "it didn't work in the past, so it probably won't work if we do it again."
192: Frank Vogel's total number of wins as head coach of the Indiana Pacers -- the most victories of any Pacer coach in franchise NBA history. Vogel supplanted former head coach Larry Brown with his 191st win against the Cleveland Cavaliers on February 27. For more on the Eastern Conference coach of the month, hop here and be sure to check out Mark Montieth's long form on the life and career of Frank Vogel.
13: The number Paul George will wear if he is able to return this season. Sure, the roster is finally healthy and the Pacers have caught a few breaks facing opponents without their stars (i.e. Stephen Curry, LeBron James, etc.), but it is still more than notable that Indiana's rise perfectly coincides with the date (February 3) Larry Bird publicly broached the possibility of Paul George coming back, as was discussed here. Since then, the Pacers have become the hottest team in the NBA, capable of boasting the league's best win percentage in the month of February.
Coincidence? I think not.