By the Numbers: At the Break
Who’s up for another installment of the By The Numbers series? There’s an odd (and completely unintended) symmetry to the fact that the last time I did this, there were 13 games left last season.
Ever since their 9-0 start, the Pacers have continued to set NBA franchise records for most wins through however many games they’ve played. Forty is two better than the 38 posted by the 2004 version of the Pacers — holder of the NBA full-season franchise record of 61 wins. It is also three better than the 37-15 marks set by arguably the best NBA Pacer team (1998) and one of the most disappointing Pacer teams ever (2003).
When the sun rose on a new year, the Indiana Pacers were the 13th ranked offense in the NBA. In the weeks since then, they’ve had the 7th worst offense in the association, and it’s cost them dearly. Seven of their 12 losses have come in this stretch, and the Pacers have scored fewer than 90 points per hundred possession over those seven losses. They now sit at 19th overall with an offensive rating of 102.2 points per 100 possessions, according to NBA.com.
The Pacers remain the best defensive team in the NBA. The overall average (93.6 points allowed per 100 possessions) isn’t record setting, but something else is: Indiana is allowing just 90.8% of league average for points allowed per 100 possessions, a figure that currently stands as the lowest percentage in the NBA three-point era. They are allowing 4.2 fewer points per 100 than second-best Chicago.
And they’ve been consistent month by month, allowing well under a point per possession in each month of the season to date.
.478, 26th; .463, 27th
The Pacers continue to play one of the easiest schedules in the league based on SoSHR (Strength of Schedule – Home/Road). Only four teams have had it easier. This is thanks to playing in the Eastern Conference — and so is this: 26 of the 30 NBA teams are facing tougher home stretches than your Indiana Pacers.
7.2 per 100
That would be the number of points per 100 possessions fewer the Pacers scored in February in the 144 minutes Paul George and Lance Stephenson shared the floor than in the 196 minutes with only one (or neither) of them out there. In the 56 minutes that Lance played without George, the offense managed fewer than 93 points per hundred.
These are not numbers meant to give the Pacers or their fans warm fuzzies.
9.2 per 100
These are the points per 100 more Indiana is scoring in February with David West on the floor than when he’s resting.
Mr. West is averaging 18.8 points on 60% shooting over the seven games of February. This spurt has his season field-goal percentage approaching 50% (49.3%). The 17-Foot Assassin has been reinforcing that monicker, shooting a stunning 52% from between 16 feet and the three-point line.
It feels like The Five (Indiana’s starters) has been slipping, and while that’s partially true, they are also the victims of high expectations.
Like the rest of the team, The Five’s offense has flagged in February — dropping to 98 per — but they’ve neutralized that with suffocating defense (86.7 per 100).
As the Pacers returned from the break, Coach Frank Vogel spoke of wanting to start the last 30 games in the same way the Pacers opened the season. Resolving the offensive issues of The Five in general — and the wing tandem of Paul and Lance specifically — will be job one, if they want to repeat their hot November.
This is crucial, because The Five remains this team’s Superstar.