Are the Indiana Pacers Really “Without Their Best Player”?

As the NBA tips off its Christmas Day games Wednesday, the Indiana Pacers are 21-10, sixth in the Eastern Conference, just one game behind second-place Boston in the standings, all “without their best player having played one second,” as just about all of Pacers Twitter has said in some form or fashion. Indiana owns wins over the Celtics, Lakers, and Raptors in just the last two weeks alone. Sure, they’ve been thumped by double digits by the Bucks (twice) and Clippers, but c’mon, that just means they lost to the favorites to make up the 2020 NBA Finals. Of course …

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Achtung Panzer! #6: The Tanking Cleveland Cavaliers

Welcome to the debut of Pace and Space from our new digs…two miles from the old digs! Still in rain-soaked suburban Seattle, but I’ve moved house, gotten a good night’s sleep, unpacked (mostly), so let’s talk NBA, shall we? The Cleveland Cavaliers, like the New York Knicks we talked about a couple of weeks back, are less “tanking” and more “a complete joke of a franchise that ought to be compared to the likes of the Browns or Jets in the NFL.” At 8-21 through games of December 21, the Cavs own the third-worst record (bless the Knicks and Hawks, …

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Does Andrew Wiggins Have a Most Improved Player Case?

How bad does someone have to be where “minimum acceptable level of competence” is so much of an improvement that we celebrate it like a superstar making a leap into the elite? Andrew Wiggins is posting .090 WS/48, 1.1 VORP/82, a 1.4 Offensive Box Plus/Minus, and (let’s roll with it) a 19.4 PER. In other words, “not total crap.” Not good, not by any reasonable standard for a guy making a max post-rookie extension, and certainly not enough to elevate the woeful 10-16 Timberwolves, losers of eight in a row and none by even two possessions (the smallest margin of …

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The 19-9 Indiana Pacers Are Passing the Good Teams Test

For the observant, Pacers “Tuesday” is once again running on Wednesday this week. The difference is that this week, it’s because how this column was going to turn out was in the balance right up until Domantas Sabonis made a free throw to put the Pacers up 3, good defense forced a bad shot on the ensuing possession, and Indiana beat the freaking Los Angeles Lakers 105-102 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, sending LeBron James and his jolly band of mercenaries back to Tinseltown with their delusional Twitter following brim-full of excuses as they learn for the first time that you …

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Achtung Panzer! #5: The Tanking New Orleans Pelicans

The New Orleans Pelicans were supposed to revive their franchise post-Anthony Davis with a collection of castoffs from the Los Angeles Lakers plus the extraordinary luck of winning the Zion Williamson Sweepstakes last offseason. Instead, Williamson has started the season injured, those Lakers have been exactly the kind of players who couldn’t make the playoffs with LeBron James on their team, and the Pellies stand a woeful 6-20, tied with the Knicks and Hawks for the second-worst record in all of basketball ahead of only the what-on-Earth-happened Golden State Warriors at 5-22. And for all the talk of Brandon Ingram …

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Jaylen Brown: Is He Any Good?

Jaylen Brown caused much consternation among a subset of Celtics fans when Boston signed him to a 4-year, $107 million contract extension ahead of Brown entering the final year of his rookie deal after getting drafted third overall in the 2016 draft. After all, a guy who averaged 13 points a game on .547 True Shooting and put up exactly zero VORP (as in, the same value you’d expect from a guy if you gave his minutes to an NBA-ready G-League player) is not the kind of guy to whom smart teams typically give max extensions. Worst-case scenario, the Celtics …

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Pacers Fans and Paul George: A Win-Win

The Los Angeles Clippers went into Bankers Life Fieldhouse and spanked the Indiana Pacers 110-99 in front of a bunch of fans still bitter over the OG Anthony Davis situation that was the drama involving Paul George forcing his way out of town after the 2017 season. George erupted for 36 points on 10-of-26 shooting after a rough start, hitting 7-of-16 from long range and posting a game-high plus-20 during his 36 minutes on the floor, showing the NBA in the process that the “load management” of Kawhi Leonard doesn’t look like any more of a liability for the 2nd-in-the-West …

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Achtung Panzer! #4: The Tanking New York Knicks

The New York Knicks, owners of the worst record in the NBA through games of December 6 (and as this goes to press currently trailing the Pacers) at 4-18, just took that “things have officially gone too far” step and fired coach David Fizdale. Which means a team on pace to win just 15 games has franchise upheaval just as they’re starting to try to bring along promising rookie RJ Barrett, and if that isn’t the most Knicks thing you can imagine, just wait until interim coach Mike Miller slowly loses his mind having to salvage something from this dumpster …

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James Harden is a “Thirsty Scorer.” What is a Thirsty Scorer?

On ESPN Thursday morning, Max Kellerman referred to the Rockets’ James Harden as “the thirstiest scorer, but not the best scorer.” The quip set NBA Twitter on fire—Kellerman wasn’t the first to use the term, but he has certainly at least for the moment popularized it—but what it didn’t do was explain just what the heck a thirsty scorer is and what separates one from a great scorer. Fortunately, we can invoke Sheed’s Law around here—ball don’t lie—and devise a stat which we’ll call Thirst Points to separate efficient scoring (there are plenty of stats for that) from pure, selfish, …

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Myles Turner Vs. the Filthy Casuals

One of the problems with social media is it gives an equal forum to experts and idiots, watering down the discussion and often drowning out nuanced discussion with the bleating of Orwellian sheep. And while the first thing one might immediately think of is politics and “the death of democracy” (how’s that for irony when the idea is to give everyone a voice?), sports suffer from it far more insidiously. Take Myles Turner for example. The Indiana Pacers standout is averaging 12.2 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 1.1 assists in 31.1 minutes per game, causing a certain subset of Pacers Twitter …

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