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Ranking the Pacers wins so far this season

The Pacers are winning more than expected, but not all wins are created equal.

Miami Heat v Indiana Pacers Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images

The Pacers embarked on a rebuilding project last season when they traded a potential franchise cornerstone, Domantas Sabonis, for what has been a revealed to be real, live cornerstone in Tyrese Haliburton.

Haliburton has been so good, he’s fueled an immensely entertaining start to the 2022-23 season for the Pacers. Myles Turner has been a monster, playing the best ball of his career and altering mindsets among Pacers fans, and maybe those of the front office and his agents about his future. From what we’ve seen so far this year, No. 33 should be begging to finish his career alongside Haliburton.

Bennedict Mathurin, a just turned 20-year old rookie when he arrived in Indy, has played beyond his years while navigating the inevitable bumps in the road of any rookie season. Throw in the rest of the young players on the rosters, namely Nembhard, Jalen Smith, IJax and Duarte and the foundation for future fun looks rock solid mortared in next to the cornerstone.

So fun have the Pacers been to start the season, it is easy to think they are arriving before their time. Looking at the Memphis Grizzlies and Cleveland Cavaliers of last year and saying, “Hold my, beer.” With a surprising 11-7 record, the Pacers are currently fourth in the Eastern Conference.

But the impressive start is not as solid as the future foundation if you take the context of all the winning into consideration. Wins and losses are absolute and how teams are judged, I get it. However, not all Ws are the same in the NBA when day-to-day rosters of available players are day-to-day.

The Pacers hit a milestone in the schedule as they left town Saturday for a monster roadie, including their only visit to the Pacific time zone starting in Los Angeles on Sunday afternoon. Seems like a good time to assess the first 18 games of the season, in particular, the 10 wins to rank top three dubs along with some context which everyone needs in order to manage expectations heading into a rough stretch of the schedule.

On the surface, wins over Miami, Toronto and New Orleans look the most impressive, with a near miss against Denver not far behind. But we’re talking Ws here, so it must be pointed out that Miami and Toronto were not at full strength against the Pacers.

Miami was close, but without Jimmy Butler, the Heat are a different team. Toronto seems to manufacture big wings that defend and cause problems on offense, but they were missing serious firepower with out Pascal Siakam and point guard Fred Van Vleet.

Regardless, the Pacers played well enough against the Raps minus those key parts to be impressive. The Pacers rallied from a half time deficit to score 66 second-half points, thanks to 19 three-balls overall, and cruise to a 118-104 win. This would be the third most impressive win, thus far.

Second on the list would be the Pacers first game in Brooklyn, a 125-116 win at Barclays Center despite 35 points from Kyrie Irving and 26 points from Kevin Durant. After a 1-4 start, this win came on the heels of an impressive win at Washington, which could arguably could be more impressive than the Raps win. The Pacers made 23 freakin’ threes in this game which announced their presence as a team that will be among the league leaders in pace and threes going forward.

Good times!

It would be easy to swap out the Pacers most recent win over the Nets on Friday night, considering the Nets had a fully engaged Ben Simmons this time around and took all of the haymakers Kevin Durant could throw and were still standing with a W in the end. However, the Pacers also exposed the Nets depth issues, and the first win considering the 1-4 circumstances at the time remains bigger in my mind.

At the top of the food chain for Pacers Ws this season, sits the 129-122 win over the New Orleans Pelicans. The Pels were at full force and their dynamic and sizeable front court makes the matchup look like a major problem for the Pacers on paper. But when Myles Turner scores 37 points and the rest of the starting lineup scores in double figures, eyes are bound to open wide to what is possible for this Pacers team.

Youthful exuberance, defensive breakdowns and day-to-day health issues will keep the Pacers in check this season. But there is much to be excited about with this group as they continue to trend up in a positive direction.

Please, share any thoughts about other games you’d suggest should be in the top three Ws. Nothing better than talking Pacers Ws.