By DeArbea Walker
The Indiana Pacers, a team that has fallen out of the minds of NBA fans and standings in the NBA Eastern Conference.
What is there to think about this Indiana Pacers team? They currently sit last in the Central Division. How can a Championship caliber team just a season a go fall to dead last in the division? This has been a burning question in every Pacers’ fans’ mind this past season. Yes, they lost one of the best three guards in the league, Paul George, in the off-season but what about Roy Hibbert and David West? The answer is simple this team has lost its self over the past few months. After losing Lance Stevenson in the offseason to free agency and by the injury to Paul George, the Pacers team has hit a wall.
Players such as George Hill are now trying to now fill a void of two dominant players every night. In addition, starters Roy Hibbert and David West are facing challenges of their own as their numbers in almost every category are down this season.
The return of Paul George couldn’t be timelier if this team hopes to make a run in the second half of the season and make the playoffs. Paul George plans for a speedy return in the coming weeks.
“I have targeted March 1 as the date that I would go 100 percent in practice, and if everything felt good, I’d give my self another two weeks to get in shape to play a game,” Paul George told ESPN’s Darren Rovell.
This team currently sits in the fifth spot of the Central Division and in order for this team to return to their old ways they absolutely need Paul George in their line up. Before George suffered a traumatic leg injury in the offseason as he trained with Team USA for the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) World Cup, he arguably had his best season yet. The young star averaged around 22 points, 7 rebounds, 4 ast. per game(ESPN). George’s contribution to his team was so large that the team’s points per game are down significantly. That is also in part because of the loss of Lance Stevenson from the Pacers line up. Stevenson averaged 14 points, 7 rebounds, 5 ast. per game last season (ESPN).
It is an understatement to say that the Pacers playoff hopes are not certain, but with the return of Paul George in the coming weeks things might turn around for the team. Yes, many may say that the Pacers season has been garbage, but in the Eastern Conference every team has a chance of making the playoffs. The Pacers currently are two games behind the 8th place seed, the Miami Heat, so the possibility of a playoff birth is certainly possible.
The clear point here is if the Pacers want to be a contender this season, Paul George would need to return to the court sooner rather than later.