The Indiana Pacers have quietly moved into the role of Eastern Conference contender. The Pacers may lack a true superstar that is usually needed to win a title, but this is a team built of many solid players who know their roles.
It’s also a team in the top 10 in the NBA in free-throw percentage and three-point percentage, a needed combination in the postseason.
That said, the Pacers fall into the category of a team that nobody would favor at this point, but nobody would want to play in the postseason.
Here is a look at the Pacers:
Strengths: (1) While being without a superstar, the Paces have several players who are capable of being go-to performers at crunch time. (2) Entering the weekend, Indiana was eighth in the NBA in free-throw percentage. (3) This is an unselfish group that also plays hard on both ends of the court. (4) Dontas Sabonis is among the most improved players in the NBA who can hurt teams down low, and with his mid-range game. (5) Malcolm Brodgon is a strong two-way player who can take the challenge of guarding the top point guards in the postseason.
Weaknesses: (1) Like the Sixers, the Pacers have spacing problems with their two bigs, Sabonis and Myles Turner. (2) Despite the presence of Sabonis and Myles Turner, this is a below-average rebounding teams. (3) Turner, who earlier in his career looked like a potential all-star, has regressed. He is still effective, but hasn’t taken that next step.
How they match up with the Sixers. This is hard to tell. Indiana has won two of three against the Sixers but both wins at home came when Joel Embiid was sidelined. Yet, the one game against the Sixers with Embiid, Indiana gave the Sixers all they could handle before losing 119-116. A series with Indiana should be extremely tight.
Biggest need at the deadline: A player who can provide frontcourt depth, especially one who can shoot.
Couldn’t hurt acquiring: Instant offense off the bench.
Players who could help them at the trade deadline:
Marcus Morris, New York Knicks forward. There will be a lot of competition for Morris who will be a free agent at season’s end and is earning $15 million. He would bring the Pacers toughness on defense and a player who can stretch the defense with his perimeter game.
Andre Iguodala, Memphis forward. The former Sixer and three-time champion from Golden State, hasn’t played all season because Memphis acquired him to trade him and will do so at the deadline. Indiana could use somebody like Iguodala, who is still an accomplished defender and would give the Pacers postseason experience. Like Morris, however, there should be plenty of competition for his services.
Derrick Rose, Detroit guard. Rose, who has one year left on a contract that will play him $7.6 million, will be in high demand. He won’t do much for the Pacers defense, but can attack the basket, although he won’t be a serious perimeter threat.