I’ve never seen a team so confident in years. I’ve never seen the Indiana Pacers working so well together since they made the playoffs back in the 2005-06 season. Ever since that, they’ve gone downhill, and yes — lost all hope. It’s when I started ignoring many games, knowing they would lose.
This season, Indiana started off great. They went on to a 9-7 start, along with beating teams like the Miami Heat and the Los Angeles Lakers along the way. But once this team hit December, it was as if all their players got a frostbite — a frostbite in confidence. Jim O’Brien was ruining the system, ignoring the youth and favoring the veterans; which led to a plummeting 17-27 record, which ended up towards O’Briens firing.
But questions rose if whether Frank Vogel can lead this team. Nobody knew who this guy was before he was named the interim head coach. I mean, who the hell is this guy? I can tell you who he is. He is the Pacers’ hope. He’s that new injection of confidence. He was the antibiotic. Give the Pacers that Vogel pill, and they got their confidence back. And what has that led to? Well, it has led to a 7-1 run and back into a playoff spot as an eighth seed.
Indiana has an 80-percent chance now to make the playoffs, according to John Hollinger’s playoff odds, if they continue playing like this. And they can. They were just short of beating the Miami Heat. If you were to count Indiana’s expected W-L record for Vogel, it would be 8-0. They couldn’t finish it out in the fourth. But that is only once, unlike O’Brien, who has done it like 17 times of all the team’s losses. Along with that, Vogel can actually make this team finish it out in the fourth. Look at the last few games. Indiana has been down in the fourth, but they are able to pull through.
We have also seen all the players improving now. Danny Granger is forming more into a leader and superstar each game as he continues to put up more big numbers. In fact, he had his best game under Vogel, putting up 30 points in the win over the Milwaukee Bucks last night.
Roy Hibbert also improved. Hibbert played strong but then went into a slump from December to January when Jim O’Brien began to criticize him. Hibbert was averaging 10.2 points and 6.9 rebounds in his slump. But now, under Vogel, he is averaging 15.3 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. That is a huge improvement.
Dahntay Jones has also been featured more into the offense, and he has not let the team down. He is coming off some games that has definitely help Indy. He scored 19 points in the fourth quarter to help seal a win over the Timberwolves. He also dropped 18 in a win over the New Jersey Nets. But Jones may lose his minutes once Brandon Rush returns, however, if he continues to play like he has been, he could see at least eight-to-ten minutes, which is good enough.
Darren Collison and A.J. Price are both doing solid for the point guard. Collison is just coming off a great performance, dropping 22 points and three assists in the Bucks game. With this, it has shown Collison is a capable starting point guard. But Price, man. With him and Collison, they really are going to help in the future. It’s about time he is finally playing more.
Paul George is also playing more, as he will be an important part of the future as he and Granger will suffocate other small forwards. George is so far having his best month with the Pacers, averaging ten points and four rebounds per game, along with having his best game with eleven points and seven rebounds over the Bucks. He also had a buzzer-beater in the third quarter.
Josh McRoberts is now back to being on the highlight reel, as the confidence is back in him. He is having his best month as well, averaging 9.6 points and 6.1 rebounds, along with having a near-triple-double with twelve points, nine rebounds, and seven assists. Tyler Hansbrough has also done well, and I can see him being the power forward of the team’s future.
But the person I am really looking forward to is Lance Stephenson, as he will be a key for the point guards. Although he hasn’t played yet, Vogel said he will play soon. I am really looking forward to see this. If he can play like he did in the Summer League, watch out. Stephenson is a guy to watch for.
But whatever the case is, Vogel has strongly improved the team. The team hosts Miami next, and I think the Pacers will get a win. I see Indiana finishing 25-29, but now, this team has changed my mind. Now they can finish 26-28, something to really be confident about entering the All-Star break.
So who is Vogel?
He is the the reason this team is doing so good.
And the reason why they will make the playoffs.