The Pacers have played eight games under interim head coach Frank Vogel. They have won seven of them, and the only loss was a last-second one in Miami. Is it a hot streak or just a fluke?
The fact is, this is the most confident Pacers team I have seen here in Indy in about five years. It's not necessarily "swagger," but the positive vibe surrounding this team is having an effect on everyone.
The bench has been playing outstanding as of late, and it appears the team is finally playing like many had expected them to in the beginning of this season.
Following last night's great come-from-behind win, the Pacers hit the road and got a win in Milwaukee tonight, 103-97. They are now 8-2 in their last 10 games.
The win is also big because of the playoff race in the East. Philadelphia and Charlotte both won tonight, and the Bucks team they beat tonight is also in the same race.
While they are currently playing the weakest part of their schedule so far this year, they have still done some impressive things. Last night, they were down by seven points entering the fourth quarter, where they had been terrible all year. They fought back and dominated that quarter, which gave them the victory.
Also, they had the Heat on the ropes in Miami in the final seconds, and would have been the only team in the league to beat the Heat in Miami twice this year.
Despite committing 18 turnovers and taking 16 fewer shot attempts, the Pacers were able to defeat the Bucks in Milwaukee. They did this by out-rebounding them, and getting to the free-throw line more than twice as many times as the Bucks (41 to 20).
Danny Granger finally had a really good game, and led all scorers with 30 points.
I was more impressed with the play of Darren Collison tonight, though. His 22 points were a very positive thing after his less-than-impressive game last night. A.J. Price clearly outplayed him last night, but there is no debating that Collison shouldn't be the starter. He stepped up tonight when the team needed him to.
Roy Hibbert, who also had a sub-par performance last night, improved a little tonight with his 13 points, eight rebounds and six assists. He looked tougher, and was able to pass out of the double-team very well.
Rookie Paul George continues to impress. Tonight he finished with 11 points and seven rebounds off of the bench, which is about his average for the past two or three weeks.
It's a shame he isn't eligible to play in the Rookie-Sophomore Game during the NBA All-Star Weekend, but maybe it's a good thing. He was unbelievable last night, and continued his consistent play tonight.
Paul scored in double-figures for the 10th time since Dec. 31, when his minutes really started to increase. Obviously, he won't be in the same class for Rookie of the Year as Blake Griffin and John Wall, among others, but his play is being recognized throughout the league.
Indiana's record now stands at 24-28, which is very respectable considering where they were earlier this winter with Jim O'Brien. If they can hover within a few games of a .500 record, they should be able to get into the playoffs, especially if they keep beating the teams that they are battling with for the spot.
The good news is they get the next couple of days off to rest before their next game, which is at home on Tuesday night. The bad news is that it is their third, and final date with the Miami Heat during the regular season. They won the first, and should have won the second; both games were in Miami.
Hopefully, this isn't the last time they see the Heat this season, though. It is very likely that these two will meet in the first round of the playoffs, which strangely enough is exactly what we are all clamoring for here in Indy.