After a thrilling 125-113 win over the Charlotte Hornets last night, the Indiana Pacers are back above .500 — a mark they’ve reached for the first time in 21 months. This team has excelled in 13 games, generating genuine interest and excitement among many Pacers fans.
But why is there this excitement now for a team with such low expectations when a year ago it wasn’t for a team that was supposed to be fighting for home field advantage in the playoffs? Right now, why would you care about a Pacers team that seems more interested in nurturing young talent for the future than winning in the present?
Indiana Pacers fans have something exciting to look forward to in the years to come
Basketball has been the passion of Indiana dreamers for generations. There’s something unique about the simple barbarism of fighting five brutes along with four of your closest companions to carefully place a rock in a bucket hanging 10 feet above your toes, capturing the imaginations of schoolkid daydreamers and worn-out combine harvesters alike .
There’s something about that high-pitched scream of ecstasy when a new sneaker tastes Hoosier hardwood for the first time. There’s something in the beat, beat, beat of a bouncing ball in an empty gym that’s pulsing through our veins. It’s a middle school student in a half-full student section who spits “bad decision” at the referee through a sip of candy during the JV game.
You come home from your first Pacers game and you’re practicing dribbling between your legs with that miniball you caught in the third quarter because the driveway is covered in snow your siblings wouldn’t help you shovel. It’s a toast to “ball don’t lie” before hitting back a cold ball with your grandfather because the Pistons missed free throws they didn’t deserve.
It’s Reggie scoring 8 points in 9 seconds. It’s PG putting Birdman on a poster. It’s Vic who claims Indy with a game-winning bullseye to beat Spurs.
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Our Indiana fantasy is laced with epic dunks, behind-the-back assists, and half-court buzzer beaters. We dream of diving into the excitement of a playoff run, maybe even a championship, together. We see visions of international superstars in blue and gold. Pacers fans in 2022 have so many options to pursue their basketball fandom dreams.
This Pacers team rewards loyal fans with the ever-present potential for late-night high-score affairs, unlike the low-ceiling/high-floor teams of recent years — the team is second in pace, third in fast break point, according to NBA.com per game, seventh in offensive rating, and first in charming intrasquad total dunks contests.
Tyrese Haliburton is a legitimate All-Star contender, 1st in the league in assists per game (10.4) and averaging over 20 points per game. Bennedict Mathurin currently holds the second-best odds of winning the Rookie of the Year award and has historic scoring numbers among all-time rookies.
This team could also reward loyal fans with the potential for future improvement. The Pacers currently have the sixth-worst defensive rating in the league and turnover percentage. Hopefully, with a young, growing team, these numbers can only improve. If they don’t, there’s a certain lanky Frenchman who would look très buea in blue and gold.
Why Care About the 2022-23 Indiana Pacers? Because whether your reverie involves ping-pong balls and generational prospects or unexpected playoff runs, we’re dreamers, and this Pacers team gives us plenty of fuel for our wild imaginations.