The have looked pretty sluggish as of late in their back-to-back losses against the Lakers and Philly, and things took a turn for the worst when David West was ruled out due to a lower back injury.
No West? No worries. The Pacers just racked up two consecutive blowout wins — a 111-90 laugher against the Cavs in Cleveland followed by a 95-73 pounding of the Magic at home. Now the Pacers are 42-26 for the season and lead the Knicks by 1.5 games for the second seed in the East. Here's to hoping the Pacers can hold on, and that the Celtics will keep off the Bulls for the sixth seed, and that Derrick Rose won't be back this season. That's a lot of hoping.
Indiana is arguably still playing kind of sluggish but were able to get two easy wins against struggling teams with nothing to play for, so perhaps that will boost their confidence for a crucial upcoming stretch against Milwaukee, Chicago, Atlanta, Houston, Dallas and Phoenix — to close out the month. Not going to be easy so going 0.500 during this stretch will be considered good enough for me.
On the bright side, David West's back is not regarded as serious and he should be back soon. Danny Granger has also been cleared to practice, though with just 14 games left in the season it looks like he won't even be 80% the player he was last season heading into the playoffs. Perhaps it will be a good thing to keep him to limited minutes off the bench.
Also promising is the play of Tyler Hansbrough, who started in place of West and had double-doubles of 18 and 11 and 14 and 14 in the last two games. Gerald Green also returned from a long exile on the end of the Pacers bench to put up 20 and 6 and 15 and 8 in the two games while shooting 50% from the field. Hopefully both of these guys will keep it up even when West, and eventually Granger, return.
Right now, though, it feels the Pacers are still missing something (perhaps a little swagger?). Frank Vogel needs to reach deep into his bag of tricks to make sure that these young guns are mentally ready come playoff time.