The night was notable in a variety of ways, including the first career triple-double by fourth-year guard Lance Stephenson, who finished with 13 points, 12 assists and 11 boards. He's come a long way since being the 40th overall pick in 2010.
Here’s a look at the Pacers’ winning season so far, by the numbers:
This is the number of games it took Indiana to get to eight wins last season. Keep in mind, the Pacers eventually had a phenomenal run, making it all the way to the Eastern Conference finals before losing to Miami. The Heat are currently four games back.
Three is the years since a team started 8-0. Back in 2010, the L.A. Lakers and New Orleans Hornets each started off on 8-0 runs. For the Lakers, it was the beginning to their last championship season.
The Pacers' NBA.com Net Rating—averages in all of the major stats—is 11.8, tops in the league. The Pacers also lead the league in PIE (player impact estimate) at 61.6 percent, a metric that shows "what percentage of game events did that team achieve." The next-closest team PIE is the Rockets' 56.3.
No. 1 is where the Pacers rank in the all-important defensive rating. This is a big one. As the saying goes, defense wins championships. You can run up and down the floor all you want and score to your heart’s content...you still gotta stop the other guy.
According to Basketball-Reference.com, the 1974-75 Washington Bullets have the best all-time defensive ranking. Following the Pacers’ win Monday night, Indy is in a close second place in this category.
As in Roy Hibbert’s blocks per game. While the numbers mentioned so far have all been team-based, Hibbert’s league-leading 4.38 stands out as one of the purest defensive moves in sports—going up and swatting a guy's shot right back the other way. Hibbert had five blocks in the win against Memphis. To put this in perspective, the great Dikembe Mutombo averaged 4.5 blocks his best year, and 2.8 as a lifetime average.
The night may have been significant as a marker of Lance Stephenson’s first career triple-double, but it also happens to have been the first time a Pacers guard hit that mark in 12 long seasons.
Sorry to end the party on a downer, but this would be the number of teams Indiana has beaten with a winning record. None is the loneliest number, as the saying goes.
Until the schedule toughens, we should probably cast doubt, even if just the slightest amount, on the significance of this hot start.
For now, these numbers help to show how the Pacers have gotten here—it’s about unselfish play and doing the little things right. The fundamentals won’t ever let you down.
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