Two years ago, the Indiana Pacers won 61 games with Ron Artest on the roster. So with Artest back on the team from his season-long suspension, the Pacers should be on form to another 50-win season. However they're 12-7 at this point, and have looked vulnerable at full strength.
So is this still an Eastern Conference contender?.Current Las Vegas Sports Odds have the Pacers as the third favorite to win the Eastern Conference behind the Heat and Pistons.Injuries are still a constant nuisance. Only Jones, Jackson, O'Neal and Jasikevicus have played every game. Foster missed the first 14 of the year, and Jamal Tinsley's injury problem is getting too occasional. The Pacers perform poorly on offense without him, since he is the only Pacer who can create his own offense from the outside.
Jonathon Bender has been so injury prone that he is considering retirement.Lithuanian superstar Sarunas Jasikevicus signed with Indiana to help fill the void Reggie Miller left. Having European experience, he comes into the league as a good shooter, but he has a lot to learn defensively. Danny Granger is a good mold of Scott Pollard but has received little playing time. The Pacers are losing more players than they're receiving, which will give David Harrison and Granger some playing time.
Indiana has remained a solid defensive team, but is too young offensively. The shot clock runs down quickly on them with or without Tinsley, which makes the absence of Miller even more noticeable. For years it was Reggie who would take the big shot, or was the veteran presence, or caused double-teams just by being on the floor. Stephon Jackson is a set-shot 3-pt shooter like Mario Elie. Jackson has little to no game with his back to the basket and will regularly take a bad shot.The Pacers just need to fine-tune their new roster.
When the standing-around-one-on-one offense dies down, they'll be better suited to face Detroit. Ron Artest deserves at least a couple months to wear out the one-year rust. When he does, the Pacers record will hopefully allow O'Neal and him to be all-stars.Now that Ron Artest is no longer on the Pacers, this team will be meddling around all year in mediocrity..The latest Las Vegas sports odds can be found at our site.
By: David Pincus