Prior to January 30, 2011 the Pacers’ W-L Record was 17-27/.386.
After firing Jim O’Brien, however, the Pacers immediately began to play much better basketball.
Conventional wisdom says that this immediate uptick in performance was simply a temporary upsurge which typically occurs for a relatively short time-period, before regressing to the mean, based on the over-riding abilities of the players on their roster, rather than the abilities of their newly appointed head coach [i.e. Frank Vogel].
Then, when the NBA Trade Deadline came and went …
with a failed effort to complete a three-team trade with the Memphis Grizzlies and the New Orleans Hornets which reportedly would have:
- Josh McRoberts/PF [starter]
- Brandon Rush/OG [back-up]
- Solomon Jones/PF-C [back-up]
- OJ Mayo/PG-OG ['quasi' starter]
the Pacers subsequently crashed down to earth in their last 8 games:
and are now, supposedly, experiencing a variety of internal problems:
that have caused their team to fail to compete on a game-to-game basis.
Looking closely at what has happened with the Pacers this season, and especially since the events of February 24, 2011 …
Is a simple case of regression to the mean really what has caused this team to lose 7 of their last 8 games?
PART I, Games played from October 27, 2010 to January 30, 2011 => 17-27
PART II, Games played from January 31 to February 23, 2011 => 9-3
PART III, Games played since February 24, 2011 => 1-7
Or, is there another equally simple but, possibly, even MORE plausibe explanation for this?
When an otherwise solid NBA team – i.e. based on the relative quality of its player personnel - experiences a sudden and major decline in performance, it is frequently attributable to the absence of one [or more] key player[s] from their line-up, who is [are] primarily responsible for creating and minimizing a slew of individual mis-match advantages for their team when playing against average-to-above-average-to-very-good opponents.
As far as the Pacers are concerned, Mike Dunleavy is, in fact, this type of player and this corner would simply suggest that:
#1. Indiana has a much improved chance to play the type of game it wants to play under the direction of Frank Vogel … and win! … when it has a 6-9, 230 lb, relatively agile, multi-dimensional OG, like Mike Dunleavy, in its starting line-up, beside:
PG, Darren Collison [6-0, 160]
SF, Danny Granger [6-9, 228]
PF, Josh McRoberts [6-10, 240]
C, Roy Hibbert [7-2, 278]
[with a supporting cast of AJ Price, TJ Ford, Lance Stephenson, Brandon Rush, Dahntay Jones, Paul George, James Posey, Tyler Hansbrough, Jeff Foster and Solomon Jones]
than it does when forced to play without him against the likes of Utah, Phoenix, Oklahoma City, Dallas, Houston and Philadelphia;
#2. When Indiana tips-off against the Raptors later-on this evening, it should come as no surprise at all to see the Pacers get back in the W column, since some combination of Brandon Rush [6-6, 210], Dahntay Jones [6-6, 210], Lance Stephenson [6-5, 210] and Paul George [ 6-8, 210] should be more than capable of competing effectively, at the OG position, against Toronto’s troika of DeMar DeRozan [6-7, 220], Sonny Weems [6-6, 203] and Leandro Barbosa [6-3, 202].