COMMENTARY | The Indiana Pacers have an 8-0 record so far this season and have made all eight wins look very easy.
They are probably the deepest team in the NBA and have one of if not the best starting lineups in the league as well. Add growing superstar Paul George to the core of David West, Roy Hibbert, Lance Stephenson, and George Hill, and you have a very formidable foe for any team in the league.
The question then becomes, can the Pacers match the '95-96 Chicago Bulls who went 72-10? Obviously, we are very early in the season, but this question has already been brought up by quite a few well-known analysts. There is no doubt that the Pacers are extremely talented and are one of the favorites to win a championship this year, but I just don't believe that they will wind up winning 72 games. My guess is that the Pacers wind up going around 64-18 or something along those lines, but I just can't see them topping the Bulls' record.
There are quite a few reasons to think about when comparing this year's Pacers to that historic Bulls team. First off, the Pacers do not have a player at the level that Michael Jordan was for the Bulls during that season. Paul George has become a great scorer, but he simply is no Jordan. The Bulls were able to give the ball to Jordan and overcome odds that most teams in this day and age would have no hope of beating.
Another thing to think about when it comes to this subject, is just how talented the rest of the NBA is. Indiana will have to face teams like the Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder, Golden State Warriors, Chicago Bulls, and the Los Angeles Clippers this season, and those are all very tough games.
The length of the NBA season is something to keep an eye on as well, especially with a very young team. Indiana is relying heavily on a 23-year-old Paul George, who is in his first season as the clear No. 1 option on the team, while Lance Stephenson (23) also has a lot on his shoulders for being such a young basketball player. The Pacers have perhaps the deadliest front-court tandem in Roy Hibbert and David West to lean on, which certainly will help them make a run at the record. But I just don't see them being able to play that well each and every night.
There are reasons to consider why the Pacers could match or even beat the record. Their youth could very well work in their advantage a their young players won't wear out as quickly as older players would. We haven't seen Danny Granger play yet, and he could very well bolster the Pacers' bench even more and that would be a nightmare for opposing teams. Paul George could continue to improve even more as the season continues and put up even bigger numbers. The defense could be able to continue smothering even the best opposing offenses each and every night. But, overall, the Pacers have an uphill battle to fight to make history.
There's no doubt that the Pacers have the talent to match the 72-win season that the Bulls put up, but the consistency and experience are things that have yet to be proven about the team. We'll know a lot more about how good this Pacers team is in a few weeks after they play consistent basketball. I won't say that it's impossible for the Pacers to pull off the incredible feat of tying or beating the Bulls' record, and if they're able to start the season out at 15-0, maybe a follow-up article will be published.
But, for now, I believe that expectations and speculations should be calmed down just a bit.
Evan Massey lives in Indianapolis and has followed the Indiana Pacers for the past 16 years. He has written for many sports websites including ProSportsExtra.com, Hoops-Nation.com, ProFootballSpot.com, and NaptownsFinest.com. Follow Evan on Twitter at @massey_evan.
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