The Pacers rallied late after a rough start to beat the Magic in OT on Wednesday, flipping what had become a more common script of playing well early before fading at some point in the second half. Of course, there’s been a lot of script flipping for the Pacers this year.
Over the past few years, the Pacers have had success despite a small margin of error, with teams that exceeded expectations by playing at a level that was greater than the sum of their parts.
Unfortunately, throughout this wildly frustrating season, the sum of the parts on the team’s injury list has normally been greater than that of the available roster. Suddenly, the organization is not trying to succeed with a small margin of error but instead is dealing with a slim margin of success while looking ahead to the future.
Currently, sitting fifth in the NBA draft lottery standings, the Pacers would need a miracle to jump up in the top three for their best shot at a top pick. It is more likely, winning down the stretch could bump them down to sixth or seventh. However, in this draft that isn’t the end of the world. Here is a link to the draft odds with teams as they currently stand, via Tankathon.
As you can see, luck remains a big factor in the final draft positioning, so there’s no need to sweat out a few wins down the stretch with a young core of players that are figuring things out together. Looking over the final 18 games, it seems reasonable that the Pacers could continue winning at a .300 clip. Fortunately, the play-in possibilities for several teams just ahead (behind?) in the standings should help maintain the integrity of all involved.
Another interesting subplot has been the fabulous play of Malcolm Brogdon alongside Tyrese Haliburton when Brogdon is available. That type of fit suddenly doesn’t make Brogdon’s expected summer departure via trade a sure or necessary thing. However, it could improve his value to make it the best thing, long term.
Sticking with the opposites theme, Rick Carlisle’s effusive praise for Brogdon over the past couple of weeks has left me thinking, he doth protest too little. Carlisle is certainly doing his part to draw attention to the great play of his veteran guard. If you could guarantee Brogdon would be healthy for 70 games and the playoffs, at his recent level of play, then he’s suddenly a bargain. But after the past couple of season, that plan remains a risk.
Check out the links:
Game Preview: Pacers at Pistons | Indiana Pacers