COMMENTARY | The still-undefeated Indiana Pacers have clearly been the most well-rounded team in the NBA so far this season.
A matured starting five backed up by a (finally) solid bench, the rest of the NBA is trying to figure out how to stop this Indiana freight train.
The Pacers, who stumbled to a 10-11 start in the 2012-13 NBA season, are off to the hottest start in franchise history, recording their first eight-game winning streak since the 2003 season. So what is contributing to this hot start for Indiana?
Indiana offers something that no other team in the NBA can claim -- five starters who are all capable of scoring at will. Four of the five Pacers starters are sitting at double-digits in scoring per game, and the fifth, center Roy Hibbert, is just below at 9.9. All five led, of course, by Paul George (24.9), who has become only the third player in NBA history to score 20+ points in eight straight seasons-opening wins, according to ESPN Stats and Info's Twitter account.
George has been the leading scorer in all but one of the eight wins so far, with Lance Stephenson being the leading scorer in the November 2 win against Cleveland. However, it's the team's distribution of scoring throughout that tells the story for these Pacers.
Here are the top two leading scorers for the Pacers through all eight games:
Oct. 29 vs. Orlando - Paul George 24, Lance Stephenson 19
Oct. 30 vs. New Orleans - Paul George 32, George Hill 19
Nov. 2 vs. Cleveland - Lance Stephenson 22, Paul George 21
Nov. 5 vs. Detroit - Paul George 31, C.J. Watson 15
Nov. 6 vs. Chicago - Paul George 21, David West 17
Nov. 8 vs. Toronto - Paul George 23, Roy Hibbert 20
Nov. 9 vs. Brooklyn - Paul George 24, David West 18
Nov. 11 vs. Memphis - Paul George 23, George Hill and Lance Stephenson 13
Looking at these numbers solidifies the notion that the Pacers are incredibly well-rounded. Not counting Paul George, the Pacers have had 5 different leading scorers in eight games. Not to mention the high intensity level of play off the bench from players like Luis Scola, who has been the epitome of efficiency in minutes for the Pacers so far this season. In November 11's win over Memphis, Scola had 12 points and four rebounds in 19 minutes of floor time.
Not only are the Pacers playing phenomenally on the offensive end of the floor, but they are also statistically the best defensive team in the league thus far as well. Indiana leads the league in blocks with 70, 12 ahead of second-place New Orleans. Hibbert single-handedly has half of the team's block so far with 35. The Pacers are first in the league with only 84.5 points allowed per game as well, not allowing any one of their opponents to score more than 91 points (Detroit on Nov. 5).
Clearly, the Pacers are the best team in the NBA right now, and the beauty of this team is that it's built for the long run. This team is already making a case for the best team the "Circle City" has ever seen. Let's hope George and company can keep it up.
Eight down, 74 to go.
Joe Tacosik is a freelance writer and part-time contributor for Bleacher Report who has grown up in and around Indiana Pacers basketball. You can read him on Bleacher Report and JoeTacosik.com.
You can follow Joe on Twitter @JoeBobTaco.
- Sports & Recreation
- Indiana Pacers
- Paul George
- George Hill
- Lance Stephenson