The Indiana Pacers beat the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night. The Lakers hadn’t lost on the road all season until they faced the permanently plucky Pacers, who were rudely underrated by many ahead of the season.
Despite having no Victor Oladipo, Indiana sit at 19-9 after the victory and are only one game back in the loss column from the Philadelphia 76ers. Their schedule hasn’t been the toughest in the league thus far, but a win over the Lakers shows they aren’t in a false position. There have been losses to the Bucks, Rockets, Clippers and Sixers; they are counterbalanced by wins over Utah and Boston.
Anthony Davis sat this one out, and LeBron James was subpar by his standards. It was a gutsy effort from the Lakers, but they were outfought by the Pacers, who own a top-seven defence and did a great job at contesting outside shots. The Lakers were 8-for-31 from downtown.
Malcolm Brogdon‘s signing was a masterstroke from Indiana. He’s been awesome so far, as has Domantas Sabonis. Brogdon, however, wasn’t at his best on Tuesday, yet the Pacers still found a way. They shot well from deep. Sabonis and Myles Turner challenged the Lakers’ interior defence in Davis’ absence – the big man duo combined for 42 points and 17 boards.
Indiana’s ceiling in 2020 depends a lot on when Oladipo returns, and how close he is to his best. Adding a fully firing Oladipo to this team could put them into Eastern Conference Finals contention. The two Holidays, T.J. Warren and Doug McDermott provide outside shooting, Turner and Sabonis give Nate McMillan line-up options aplenty. The backcourt of Brogdon and Oladipo could be the best in the East.
Since opening night, the Pacers’ only home losses have come to the Bucks and Clippers. With the Sixers, Raptors, Nuggets and Heat all heading to Bankers Life Fieldhouse before January 9th, the Pacers have plenty more opportunities to prove themselves against the best the NBA has to offer. Win a couple of those, and a playoff series with the Pacers will quickly look like more than a nuisance.