The Pacers finished an 11-game stretch without Victor Oladipo at 7-4. They’re tied for the fifth-best point differential in the league and getting strong play up and down the roster. Indiana sits in a strange position, not initially appearing to be in the same tier as the top teams in the East but also having a team built around the 26-year-old Oladipo with a window for contention that, at best, probably is open (however slightly) for just the next two or three seasons.
What we’ve seen from Indiana so far this year indicates that a) they are probably closer to the Celtics, Raptors and Bucks than they appeared coming into the season and b) their window might be open a big wider and longer than we (I) thought. Domantas Sabonis has blossomed into one of the best young bigs in the game and Myles Turner is in the middle of one of his best stretches of the season — 15.5 points, 8.6 rebound, 1.9 assists and 2.9 blocks per game over his last 11 games, shooting 52.2 percent on 3-pointers. Those two players are helping keep Indiana among the East’s elite and give the team a lot more upside over the next two or three years.