Pacers roll, solidify position, look ahead

Apologies for not having posted after the last two Pacers wins — a come from behind 116-105 victory against the Minnesota Timberwolves at home (thanks to Dahntay Jones’s 19 points in the fourth quarter) and a well-earned 103-97 victory against nemesis Milwaukee Bucks (who had beaten the Pacers twice already this season including that Bogut buzzer tip in).

That makes it 7-1 in the Frank Vogel era as the Pacers improve to 24-28 — making them one full game behind Philadelphia (7th) and two full games ahead of the Charlotte Bobcats (9th).

The Pacers have been making plenty of mistakes during this streak, allowed teams to come back, turned the ball over on crucial possessions, missed lots of head scratching free throws — and yet they continue to play with confidence and continue to win.

As Danny Granger said, they are now playing to their strengths.  They are using Hibbert down low, using the physicality of Hansbrough and Foster, the athleticism of McRoberts, the penetration of Collison, and the shooting of Granger and Dunleavy.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet like we did earlier in the season when the Pacers were on fire.  We’re not even at the All-Star break yet.

Looking ahead, a tough home game against the Miami Heat, a team the Pacers really should have beaten again in Miami last week before some vintage Lebron James brought them all the way back from a double digit deficit.  This time I still don’t expect the Pacers to win, but I expect them to compete and have a decent chance. 

Win or lose, the next few games are key: @Detroit, @Washington, Detroit — three more winnable games.  But then the road gets tougher, and it’s a stretch that can either push the Pacers over the hump or throw them back down in the dumps again — Utah, Phoenix, Golden State, @Oklahoma City, @Dallas, @Houston, Philadelphia.  Huge, huge stretch for the Pacers.  If they can win win three out of four against the Heat, Pistons and Wizards, and then be 4-3 after that, they’ll be in a good spot.

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