In the midst of winning twelve of their last fifteen games to surge to the second-seed in the Eastern Conference, it's hard not to be excited about the Pacers right now. During that stretch, the Blue and Gold have captured wins over the Knicks, Heat, Bulls, and Hawks, all of whom are potential playoff opponents this Spring. However, following the victory over Chicago the other night, I saw a tweet from the Pacers’ Twitter account that looks promising on the surface, but is somewhat misleading:
The Pacers have a combined 7-1 season record against the Heat, Knicks and Bulls.— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) March 4, 2013
While that 7-1 record is impressive, if you dig a little deeper you'll find that only two of those eight contests were away from Indianapolis: a November loss to the Knicks at the Garden, and an early December win in Chicago. In fact, the Pacers are just 13-16 on the road this year, which is only the 11th best mark in the league. Thus far, they've taken care of business at home, but as we approach Sunday’s huge showdown with the East-leading Heat, can the Pacers make a statement away from the Fieldhouse?
Here is a list of the Pacers’ thirteen road wins this season:
Raptors (twice), Pistons (twice), Wizards, Lakers, Kings, Bulls, Cavaliers, Hornets, Bobcats, Grizzlies, and Sixers. Not exactly a murderer’s row, eh?
Of their road wins, only Chicago and Memphis are currently playoff teams, and the Pacers have dropped twelve of their fourteen road games against such opponents this season. Sure, Indiana (25-6 at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse) is great at home, but who among the top teams in the NBA isn’t? Like the Pacers, the Heat (26-3), Spurs (24-3), Thunder (26-4), Clippers (23-7), Grizzlies (22-8), and Knicks (21-9) are all terrific homecourt teams, but those six squads have all had road success, combining to go forty games over .500 (109-69) away from home.
In the last decade, no NBA Champion has had a losing road record, and only one Conference champ (2002-03 New Jersey Nets: 16-25) did. To find an NBA Champion with a losing road record, you have to go all the way back to the 1977-78 Washington Bullets, who were 15-26 away from D.C.
The Pacers can make a serious statement with a road win over LeBron & Co. this weekend
Obviously, this is no reason to panic. The Pacers are in line right now for the #2 seed in the East, meaning that they would potentially have homecourt advantage until the Eastern Conference Finals, should they advance that far. Like Query mentioned yesterday on the show, all you need to do is protect your home court and grab an occassional road win to make a deep postseason run.
However, if history is any indicator, the Pacers need to finish strong away from home over the next eight weeks to be viewed as serious Conference and NBA title contenders.