Pacers remain scary playoff opponent, analyst insists
With or without Victor Oladipo, you shouldn't forget about the Indiana Pacers in the NBA's restart.
That's the take from former NBA center and current ESPN analyst Kendrick Perkins.
"The Pacers are one of the most slept-on teams in the NBA," Perkins said on SportsCenter.
The Pacers will indeed be missing Oladipo when pro basketball returns at the end of the month in Orlando. He decided to opt out, citing his recent knee injury and the need to give it proper rehab.
But let's not forget that the Pacers star guard only appeared in 13 games this season -- and they still compiled a 39-26 record prior to the hiatus (7-6 with Oladipo).
In other words, coach Nate McMillan always finds a way to get his teams to play a gritty, smart brand of basketball. With the likes of T.J. Warren, Domantas Sabonis, Malcolm Brogdon, Myles Turner and the rest, these Pacers have been no different.
Perkins suggested it's a trend that is likely to continue.
"They play inspiring, winning basketball," he said. "They don't have a superstar, but they have a lot of young studs."
Indiana enters the restart tied with the Philadelphia 76ers for fifth in the Eastern Conference, just two games back of the Miami Heat. Each team will play eight regular-season "seeding" games prior to the playoffs.
Each will also have three scrimmage games that serve as tuneups. For the Pacers, the first "preseason" game takes place July 23 vs. the Dallas Mavericks.
"They want all the SMOKE and they are a Dangerous Playoff matchup for anyone in the Eastern Conference!!!" Perkins said of the Pacers on Twitter.