In the NBA, teams get hot and teams get cold. The Indiana Pacers have been a prime example of each over the last 11 games: a seven-game winning streak, followed by a four-game losing skid. The level of competition has no doubt played a part in the team's recent losses, as the Pacers have faced the Cleveland Cavaliers, Washington Wizards and San Antonio Spurs during the losing streak. However, Gregg Doyel of the Indianapolis Star feels that two players in particular -- small forward Paul George and point guard Jeff Teague -- are letting the team down.
Doyel points out that George and Teague essentially disappeared during Indiana's unexpected home loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on February 11, and even when their statistics look good at the end of games, they aren't stepping up in "crunch time" when the Pacers need them the most. Every NBA player goes through ups and downs over the course of a long 82-game season, so this should not be a major concern over the long-haul. However, consistency is one of the things that separates the great teams from the average teams, and every player on the Pacers' roster has to be mindful of this.
Combo guard Monta Ellis has received a great deal of criticism over the last year, as many fans feel he has not lived up to expectations after signing with Indiana as a free agent in 2015. ESPN shares that Ellis has been playing well recently for the Pacers, but that is by no means the entire story. Ellis was moved to the bench after beginning the season as a starter, and by all accounts, he has handled the situation with professionalism. Ellis has found a way to be effective coming off the bench, he's been making a number of hustle plays, taking charges on defense and generally playing with a team-first attitude.
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Many fans bemoaned the four-year, $44 million deal Monta Ellis received from the Pacers in 2015, feeling he was not worth the investment. However, with salaries rising quickly in the NBA, Ellis' deal is looking more and more reasonable over time. Monta Ellis is no longer capable of being the big-time scorer he was nearly a decade ago, but he has become a leader by example, as well as one of the team's vocal leaders. Ellis' game and attitude have evolved, and he has managed to carve out an important niche as a veteran presence and a spark off the bench for the Indiana Pacers.
The NBA trade deadline is little more than a week from now, and every team is looking to see if there are any advantageous deals out there. Fansided opines that there may be several big men who could interest the Pacers, including Orlando Magic power forward Serge Ibaka, Philadelphia 76ers center Nerlens Noel and Chicago Bulls power forward Taj Gibson. Realistically, it seems unlikely that president of basketball operations Larry Bird will make any major moves before the deadline. Indiana has some small holes they could fill, but they appear to be better off keeping the roster intact and evaluating the team again when the season ends. For the Pacers, it's more a matter of getting the most out of the players they have, rather than making significant personnel changes at mid-season.
Peter Dinwiddie, who is currently the Indiana Pacers' vice president of basketball operations, was recently named one of central Indiana's rising stars under 40 years old by the Indianapolis Business Journal. Dinwiddie has a law degree, but he accepted a job with the Pacers in 2006 as a ticket sales agent to get his foot in the door. Dinwiddie's passion and potential were quickly recognized, and he has worked his way into a front office position as Indiana's NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement expert. Dinwiddie's unlikely journey is an inspiring example of what hard work and determination can do.
[Featured Image by Darron Cummings/AP Images]