At this point, anyone who regularly follows the NBA knows that the East-leading Indiana Pacers are one of the best teams in the NBA, but they reminded everyone of their potential greatness by flashing an incredible amount of upside on Saturday night.
The Pacers sprinted out to a 10-point lead after 12 minutes and a 16-point lead at the half over the Clippers, and from there, they put things in cruise control in a 106-92 victory. As usual, the Indiana defense was the key to everything in this one, holding LAC to a dismal 39% from the floor and 21% from beyond the 3-point arc, and it was an across-the-board effort on that end of the floor. Superstar power forward Blake Griffin was limited to just 19 points on 6-for-18 from the field, and even the electric wing scorers (Jamal Crawford and JJ Redick) couldn’t get anything, shooting a combined 11-for-35 on the night.
Offensively, Indy was also quite effective, even if they didn’t “need” to be. Paul George was downright incredible at times in route to 36 points (on 12-for-17 from the field and an electric 5-for-6 from 3) and his partner on the wing, Lance Stephenson, flirted with a triple-double with 22 points, 12 rebounds, and 7 assists. The free throw line was also quite kind to the Pacers, as they shot 21-for-22, but between their highly efficient offense, dominant defense, and rebounding advantage (48-39), it was an academic victory.
It certainly must be noted that the Clippers were without their All-NBA point guard in Chris Paul, but frankly, I don’t think it would have mattered against the gauntlet that Indiana was on this night. The Pacers will never be “flashy” (think San Antonio Spurs), but they are playing at an incredibly high level that appears to be quite sustainable.