The Indiana Pacers are in the Eastern Conference playoff race for the second straight year. After losing four straight games when All-Star Victor Oladipo went down for the season, they have gone on a massive eleven and six run since. Lacking another star in Oladipo’s absence hasn’t stopped them from rising to the third seed in the East.
League best defence
Myles Turner has driven this Indiana team to have the best defence in the league. He also leads the league in blocks, is third in defensive rating and third in defensive box plus minus. Turner’s 2.8 blocks a game ranks as one of the best shot blocking seasons in the last twenty years.
Veteran power forward Thaddeus Young has been another big part of Indiana’s success this season. Young’s excellent defence has him ranking in the top twenty in the league in steals, defensive rating and defensive win shares.
The key to Indiana’s league best defence has been forcing turnovers while allowing less shots at the rim. An excellent defensive rebounding team, they have allowed the third least two pointers in the league also.
Career highs all round
On the offensive end Indiana has seen Bojan Bogdanovic take a massive leap this year. Averaging a career high 14.3 points per game last year, Bogdanovic has broken out to the of tune of 18 points per game this year. Remarkably he has also reached career bests in field goal percentage, three-point percentage, rebounds, assists, and steals.
Domantas Sabonis has also taken the next step in his young NBA career. In his second year in Indiana, Sabonis is a legitimate candidate for Sixth Man of the year. On only 24 minutes a night Sabonis is averaging fourteen points, nine rebounds and three assists.
As the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers struggle for chemistry on the court, Indiana are playing an established system where everyone is buying in. Come the playoffs, teams with strong defence usually end up going further. If they can keep this level of play up, they will be a nightmare for anyone in the Eastern Conference.