Midway through the 2022-23 NBA season, the Indiana Pacers have won six of their last seven games.
At 23-18, Indiana is sixth in the Eastern Conference. In the hunt for the playoffs, national sportswriters have caught the attention of the Pacers.
Point guard Tyrese Haliburton was voted the NBA’s most underrated player in a midseason poll of league beat writers conducted by NBA.com. In the same poll, rookie guard Andrew Nembhard was considered the biggest steal in the 2022 draft.
As for the team itself, the writers are beginning to consider the Pacers a top 10 team in the NBA. Here’s how Indiana ranks among national media at midseason:
For subscribers:Pacers are among the best in the NBA at exploiting this rule (but don’t ask Rick Carlisle).
ESPN: 10th, 3 spots better than previous ranking
The Pacers have won six of their last seven games and eight of their last 10 games. During that stretch, Tyrese Haliburton averaged 22.7 points and 9.2 assists while shooting 51% from the field and 45% from 3-point range.
Indiana had a chance to gain some ground against Philadelphia last week when Embiid was out for a head-to-head match, but it stayed close in overtime. The Pacers rebounded over the weekend with wins over the Trail Blazers and Hornets as Tyrese Haliburton racked up more assists, totaling at least a dozen in each game, to build on his league-leading average. Indiana meets New York at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, with the Knicks less than a game behind.
The Pacers aren’t over their troubles in the first quarter just yet. Early on Monday they were 13 behind against Toronto, on Friday they were 10-0 against Portland and on Sunday they lost the first quarter by 12 points (27-15) to Charlotte. But the Pacers won all three of those games, keeping the three opponents under a point per possession in both the second and fourth quarters. And they now lead the league with 11 wins (they’re 11-15) in games where they’re down by double digits.
Overall, they have won eight of their last ten games, although they have only outstripped their opponents by a total of 32 points at this stretch. Seven of their eight victories (along with the overtime loss in Philadelphia on Wednesday) have been within five points in the last five minutes, and they have had 94 points on 70 possessions (134 per 100) in those eight tight games. Tyrese Haliburton, Buddy Hield and Myles Turner blasted Clutch 3s 8-for-15 together at this stretch, and they each had great defensive play — Hield blocked a LaMelo Ball 3, Haliburton stripped Terry Rozier, and Turner absolutely stuffed Mason Plumlee – in the last minute against the Hornets on Sunday.
The Pacers are now just two wins away from being the first team to match their totals from last season (25-57) and they’re still in the middle of a home stretch. But their most important game this month is likely their visit to New York on Wednesday, where Indy has a half-game lead over the Knicks for sixth place in the East. The Pacers led by six points when they last met (in Indiana a few weeks ago) with less than two minutes left before the Knicks ended the game on an 11-2 run.
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No, we don’t think “refueling” is still in the Pacers’ vocabulary. Yes, most people thought they would blow up that list and tank up this season. All we’ve seen, however, is a dismal bunch that continues to bang about its weight. They have won seven of their last nine games. They almost beat the Sixers in overtime a few days ago too. This is a really promising young bunch.
Indiana is 8-2 in their last 10 games and is sixth in the East. Rookie Bennedict Mathurin continues to be a revelation for the Pacers after averaging 17.1 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 41 games this season. He leads all players in bank scoring (681) and is second in overall scoring by a rookie.
Zach Harper, The Athletic: 17th, stayed the same spot as the previous ranking
The Pacers were expected to trade some of their key veterans and head for the white light of the lottery ball in the season. So far, they’ve been a team forecast to set a winning record and absolutely wipe out their preseason over/under totals. In fact, the Pacers are so good at picking up 25 wins that they’d have to hit a 1-40 in the second half of the season to miss them. They could trade all their veterans for you and me and still get 25 wins.