Corey B. Elliot
ISR Senior Writer
INDIANAPOLIS-What is the value of understanding the bigger picture? Just how important is the idea that a single player is only one person but with the rest of the team they are one very big movement en route to something much bigger than their individual statistics and achievements?
The thought that any team playing at or above the college level wouldn’t get it is silly, but there are teams that lack the simple comprehension.
The Indiana Pacers get it. They understand it and every night, whether they win or lose, they live it, and because they live it and understand it, nights like Friday night’s 93-66 dismantling of the Washington Wizards are the reason this Pacers team is an NBA best 29-7.
I’ve questioned Lance Stephenson’s energy and up-tempo push at times. While it’s resulted in eight double-doubles this season—three of them triple doubles—it’s that same style of play that often leads to turnovers or ill-advised shots. I’ve raised a few red flags about Roy Hibbert, a max-contract center who sometimes fails to score and rebound above 10 in each respective category. Everyone has wondered if Danny Granger will struggle in what is supposed to be the season his fate is determined. And, of course, everybody who watches this Pacers team has asked questions as to whether or not the bench will finally be enough to support a lead, or, bring the Pacers back from a deficit when the stellar, starting five take a break.
Despite all of those questions and doubts, if that’s what you want to call them, the Pacers prevail more often than not, and even in a loss they aren’t losing sight of the bigger picture.
The Pacers don’t ask those questions and they don’t have those doubts. They don’t fret over a loss any longer than the night the game was played. They don’t point fingers in blame or frustration, they don’t let sub-par individual performances become a bigger issue than the issue at hand; winning one game at a time, pursuing an NBA championship.
They certainly aren’t the greatest NBA team to ever step foot on the hardwood. But, again, that’s not their concern. The fact of the matter is each player doesn’t have a specific roll. It changes each night. Friday night Paul George and Granger went a combined 3-21 shooting, yet, the Pacers won by 27. It is necessary to point out Indiana is now 24-3 against below .500 teams and only 5-4 against above .500 teams, but that doesn’t take away the validity of this basketball team’s success, success that begins on the defensive end of the court. The Pacers held the Wizards to 66 points Friday night, the lowest score of any NBA game this season.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our guys’ work ethic on the defensive end. You want to see a team come out and play as hard as any team you’ve ever seen on the defensive end, come out and watch our basketball team,” Pacers’ Head Coach Frank Vogel said. “They get it. They understand what we’re going for and they understand how to get there. They understand what team play is all about, that’s why we have the record we have.”
Friday night it was C.J. Watson adding 16 points off of the bench on 6/6 shooting to David West’s 20 points and eight rebounds. George only scored eight points, but he dominated the glass with 14 of the Pacers 61 rebounds Friday night—a new NBA-season high—and spread the ball around with six of the Pacers’ 25 assists. Tuesday night against Sacramento it could be George scoring 30 or maybe four. It doesn’t matter. Somebody is going to step up and that’s the dynamic of this team’s foundation, it’s what they are made of.
The Pacers aren’t worried about a loss as much as they aren’t celebrating every win. The way Indiana has conducted itself throughout the early season success is why this team should be playing in late June if they continue to understand it and live it each day in practice and in games. Veterans like West leading by example and being the voice in a young locker room have a lot to do with it.
“Accountability, holding each other accountable every single possession, nobody gets a play off, the commitment to the team and making sure that everybody knows they have a job to do is the one thing that’s non-negotiable,” West said of the team’s formula for success.
FOR THE FANS
Friday night was the 12th sellout of the season. The Pacers will now have three days off beginning a week without travel during the upcoming three-game home-stand which begins with the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday, a “Two for one” ticket event where Pacers fans can buy two tickets for the price of one.
Corey Elliot is a Senior Writer at the Indy Sports Report and is recognized as an accredited member of the media by the Pacers and has full media access. Follow Corey and the ISR on Twitter