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By the Numbers: At the All Star Break
A snowy February brings us to a winter vacation, of sorts. With no Pacer games for more than a week, it’s time to take a look at some of the more important numbers this season. (Warning: Some content may not be suitable for children or those in failing health…or me, for that matter.)
At this point, the Indiana Pacers would have to go 17-13 to reach my preseason projection of 35 wins. Stranger things have happened, but they generally involve tortillas and the Virgin Mary.
The combined winning percentage, as of February 10th, of the teams the Pacers have defeated.
Pacers’ record vs. winning teams this season. The losses have been by a combined 241 points, just over 12 points a game. Only six have been decided by fewer than 10 points, and only one by fewer than five points.
Pacers’ record vs. teams currently holding worse records this season. Which means that they’re only 5-12 against losing teams with equal or better records than their own, 11-32 when you include their record against winning teams.
The Pacers’ “Win Factor,” which is the worst in the league. This is basically the Weighted Strength of Schedule – Home/Road in Pacers’ wins. You can find a more detailed explanation here.
The Pacers offensive output per 100 possessions represents the team’s lowest in the NBA since the inception of the three pointer. This is down 6.3 from last year’s production. While it’s true that scoring is down league wide, this drop is 4 1/2 times the league average.
5 1/2 (14)
At 18-34, the Pacers are only 5 1/2 games ahead of the Minnesota Timberwolves, who currently hold the second worse record in the NBA. They’re 3 1/2 ahead of third worst Golden State, and only percentage points a head of fourth worst Washington (who appears to be pulling the chute on season). (They’re 14 games ahead of the Nets, who isn’t going to be caught by anybody for the worst record.)
The Pacers are seven games behind Chicago for the final playoff spot in the East. In order to have a realistic shot at a playoff spot, the Pacers would have to go at least 21-9, in my opinion, over the last 30 games. Of course, playoff hopes are merely delusional thinking, but denial is second only to inertia in terms of power in this universe.
23 (and counting)
The number of games Indiana’s first round draft pick Tyler Hansbrough has missed due to injuries and/or illness. The Pacers sorely miss Buckaroo Banzai’s intensity and physicality. More importantly, it has basically cost both the Pacers and Buck crucial development time in his rookie year.
The number of games veteran Jeff Foster will play the rest of the season. Foster will undergo season-ending back surgery this week. His absence, along with Buckaroo’s, deprives the Pacers’ front of virtually all of its toughness. The remaining players go from soft (Murphy) to softer (Hibbert) to downright frail (Solo).
The Pacers have lost 22 games by 10 or more points this season. This is tied for 7th most in their 33-year NBA History. The most ever was 30, set in 1985. That record is in serious danger. This will be the third time in four years the Pacers have had 22 or more double-digit defeats. It had not happened since 1989, which finished a string of five times in seven years.
Seventeen of the remaining 30 games are against winning teams. With only six at home, I don’t expect the Pacers to win any of them. In fact, with the possible exception of the home game against Charlotte, I’d be shocked if the Pacers won any of them.
19.7, 9.7, 2.5
At the start of the new calendar year, the Pacers decided to give A.J. Price a look. In 20 games since then, Price has at least demonstrated that he belongs in the NBA, averaging 9.7 points and 2.5 assist in just a tick under 20 minute. I’d like to see better assist numbers, but, to be fair, he has played about 30% of those minutes at the two. His full year PER of about 13.5 is pretty solid. I don’t really see him as a long-term starter, unless we get some really dominant players here, but you have to be thrilled with the value of 52nd pick. (Note to Coach O’Brien – Barring a deal in the next few days or winning the lottery, this guy is probably going to be your starter next season. Let’s dispense with the Watson/Ford nonsense, and keep Price in the rotation for the balance of this lost season.)
The number of breathless trade rumors you’re going to hear between now and the deadline on Thursday night. Washington has started deconstruction by shipping Butler and Haywood to Dallas. The Pacers are heavily mentioned, all swirling around Troy Murphy and his stretch-forwardi-ness (whatever the hell that means). Deals to Cleveland have been discussed (seemingly) since the dawn of time, and word out of Dallas is that Troy Murphy is the fallback for the Cavs, if they can’t get Amare Stoudemire. Unfortunately, Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver appears to be thinking with his wallet, and it’s looking more and more likely that Cleveland will be able to get Amare on the (really, incredibly) cheap.
Milwaukee and Sacramento have been reported to have interest in Murphy, but it’s difficult to tell what they’d be willing to offer. It seems that unless Herb Simon is willing to take Sarver’s route, focusing on finances and ignoring the basketball side entirely, it will be difficult for the Pacers to actually execute a trade at the deadline. Oh, well. Nothing to do but wait.
The Pacers gotta do something about where they’re going. All these years of running to stand still are taking a dangerous toll on the franchise and everyone associated with it.
(Verse in picture is from “Running to Stand Still” by U2)