The Indiana Pacers continued their rapid climb up the Eastern Conference standings after beating the Milwaukee Bucks by a score of 109-103 in overtime. And this was a huge win for the Pacers because they’re currently chasing Milwaukee for the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference.
It certainty wasn’t an easy victory, though, given that this contest included 60 fouls, 35 turnovers and an overtime period. Furthermore, Indiana’s six-game streak of holding opponents to under 90 points was finally snapped. Nevertheless, the Pacers (30-34) will definitely take the victory, which gives them a seven-game winning streak and moves them to within three and a half games back of Milwaukee (34-31).
“That’s what most teams want, you don’t want to be playing your best basketball in the beginning,” said Solomon Hill when discussing how Indiana was 15 games under .500 a month ago. “You want to be playing your best basketball at the end.”
So what’s the driving force behind the Pacers’ incredible turnaround? Well, the most-obvious factor is the balance that Indiana has, with five players averaging double figures in points and a bench that’s deeper than the ocean. Given as well as everybody’s playing on this team from top to bottom, Indiana certainly won’t run out of players down the stretch.
“I still think morale was high even when we were losing,” said point guard Donald Sloan. “Guys’ heads were still up and maintaining and getting through it. It’s just a good group. I don’t think if you had different combinations or different guys in here it would be the same.”
Another aspect to consider here is how scrappy Indiana has been on the defensive end of the floor. The team almost changed to a zone midway through the season, amid struggles, but head coach Frank Vogel decided to stick with what the Pacers do best. And power forward David West is certainly a fan of this decision as he said:
“At times we were trying to maybe change sort of our defensive schemes that have worked for us over the last two to three years. Ultimately, we said, ‘Nah, we’re just going to stick with what we do. We got better at that and our defense started to pick up which has helped us win games. The message is always the same: Just stay steady, believe in one another and remain confident and see what happens.”
Riding the high of a seven-game win streak, it won’t be hard for Indiana to remain confident and stay steady moving forward. They have 18 games left in the regular season to catch Milwaukee, which would currently put them in a first-round matchup with the injury-riddled Chicago Bulls. However, if they can’t catch the Bucks, Indiana would have a less-favorable matchup with the Cleveland Cavaliers, a team that’s been red-hot over the past 25 games.
In any case, just the fact that the Pacers have a strong shot at making the postseason seems like a miracle when considering their horrid start. So if you’re into Indiana Pacers betting, certainly keep their stellar play in mind when placing your wagers.