As of November 2nd, the Pacers’ defensive rating of 107.2 is better than that of only the New York Knicks, Houston Rockets, and Washington Wizards. Even more troubling is that the Pacers’ defensive rating has increased by 7 points over the team’s 100.2 defensive rating from last season, which was good for third place.
While Favale called the Pacers’ offensive rating improvement from 102.4 to 103.7 this season “marginal”, it does represent a jump from 23rd to 11th place.
Nevertheless, the team’s net rating is -3.5, which is only 18th in the NBA. In contrast, the Pacers were on the positive side in 2015-16 with a net rating of 2.2, which was good for 11th place last season.
Favale sees some of the present positives the Pacers are experiencing only as evidence that the Pacers’ season may get worse. Even though Paul George, C.J. Miles, and Thaddeus Young are shooting over 50 percent from the 3-point line, he contends that those 50+ percentages won’t last, and therefore, the points totals the Pacers are experiencing presently are bound to drop off later in the season.
Although it’s unlikely that any of those three players (or anyone in the NBA) will end the season with a .500 3-point percentage, the fact that Young already has five 3-pointers in four games is very positive considering he had only seven 3-pointers for the Brooklyn Nets during the 2016 season.
While Al Jefferson is averaging only 4.8 ppg off the bench compared to the 12.0 ppg he averaged in 2016 for the Charlotte Hornets, some of that can be attributed to going from 23.3 mpg with the Hornets last year to only 12.8 mpg this season with the Pacers. Another part can be attributed to a .0.9 FG% this season compared to a 48.5 FG% in 2016.
Subjectively, while watching Jefferson out on the court on television, he seems confused at times, which isn’t what one would expect from a veteran. During an exhibition game with the Milwaukee Bucks, Jefferson was holding the ball and couldn’t figure out what to do with it. Finally, Jefferson threw the ball to Julyan Stone, who’s now on the D-League Fort Wayne Mad Ants roster, and Stone reset the offense.
While there are some hot spots that the Pacers need to attend to, the team isn’t in a state of a raging inferno and needs to be doused by the sprinkler system in Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The team might also take encouragement in that the Los Angeles Lakers beat the previously undefeated Atlanta Hawks 123-116 Tuesday after the Lakers lost to the Pacers the night before.
The Pacers head to Milwaukee to play the Bucks tonight at 8 p.m.