Jan 3, 2012, 10:06 PM EDT
The Indiana Pacers are 4-1. Let that sink in for a second. They’ve done it against a soft schedule (something changing this week with the Heat and Celtics on deck), but in years past the Pacers did not consistently beat the teams they were supposed to beat.
This year is different for a few reasons — Roy Hibbert’s maturity, a very versatile defense that is allowing just 95.7 points per 100 possessions (second best in the league), and they are healthy (knock on wood).
The glue bringing it all together is free agent pick up David West, explains Adrian Wojnarowski at Yahoo. Last season the Pacers were a team that had a fun but not very professional locker room. That has changed.
“I don’t tolerate a lot of ignorance, and I think guys are starting to figure that out,” West said. “I’m not a preachy guy, but I just try to represent something different in terms of who I am.”
“He does a lot of one-on-one mentoring, and does it every day,” (Pacers coach Frank) Vogel said. “Just his presence – guys are going to think twice before they handle themselves the wrong way. Big brother is there. He’s a good observer; he knows what the right chemistry feels like. He knows when guys need hugs, when guys need a kick in the butt.”
Right now, West and Darren Collison are running the pick-and-pop as well as anyone in the NBA. It has opened up the Pacers offense and provided balance. Granger still leads the way(17 per game) but after that Hibbert, West, Tyler Hansbrough and Paul George all average 12 points a game — it’s tough to defend that type of balance.
If the Pacers can continue to grow and defend, they are going to become that team that the elite teams like the Celtics and Knicks really don’t want to see in the first round. They have a team that will not go quietly as they did a year ago.
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