It's been nearly two months since the Indiana Pacers and Sacramento Kings competed in Game 2 of the NBA India Games on October 5, at the NSCI Dome in Mumbai, India.
In the unpredictable world of the NBA, a lot has happened since then.
Injuries, rough starts to the regular season, entertaining marquee contests, superstar performances, game-winning plays, and so much more.
However, to the fans in India, there is a sense of familiarity of watching all these riveting moments on NBA League Pass or on television sets in the wee hours of the morning.
With the NBA India Games last month, die-hard fans of the league and the sport got to witness its first-ever NBA game on Indian soil. Therefore, the Pacers and Kings will always hold a special place in our hearts for the history they created.
So, nearly 50 days since the historic event, here's a look at how both teams have fared since the faced-off in the business capital of India:
The Rough start
After going 3-1 and showing a lot of positive signs in the preseason, the Pacers stumbled to an 0-3 start in the regular season.
Two of the three losses came against a Detroit Pistons squad that was missing their All-Star in Blake Griffin, while the third loss had come at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers, a team that had no playoff expectations and hadn't made the postseason last year.
On the other hand, the Pacers, who were expected to be a top 5 playoff team in the East, had no major injuries.
Heading into the season, head coach Nate McMillan had mentioned the team's need to work on their rebounding and transition defense. While transition defense held up, the rebounding was a cause for concern and it played a huge role in the losses - a frontcourt player on the opposition had one player with 13+ rebounds.
Three games are too small of a sample size but in those first three games that the Pacers lost, they ranked last in the league in total rebounding (39.0) and defensive rebounding (29.3). Their defense as a whole through the first three games was ranked an uncharacteristic 25th in the league with a defensive rating of 109.1
It's been a completely different Pacers team in the last 14 games.
Since that 0-3 start, they've gone 11-3 to finish with a record of 11-6 at the Thanksgiving break - good for 6th best in the East. In fact, if you were to discount the Milwaukee Bucks, who are on a 9-game win streak, the Pacers are only two games behind the second-seeded Boston Celtics.
Their three losses during this span - a 2-point overtime loss in Charlotte, a loss to the Rockers where James Harden scored 44 and a loss to the Bucks where Giannis Antetokounmpo went berserk - 26 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists.
All this despite the fact they probably faced more adversity, from an injury standpoint, during this successful run.
In the last 14 games, here are some of the starters who have missed games (number of games missed) - Myles Turner (8), Malcolm Brogdon (3), Domantas Sabonis (2), Jeremy Lamb (7),
In spite of being shorthanded, the Pacers have the third-best defensive rating (102.1) during this turnaround and third-best net rating (8.5), second only to the Bucks and the Toronto Raptors.
There aren't any standout wins against any playoff teams - it's just the Pacers taking care of the games they are favored in.
Malcolm Brogdon - He has recorded a point-assist double-double in five of the 14 games he's played. He's averaging career-highs across the board - 19.0 points, 8.1 assists, and 4.9 rebounds. Among Pacers who have played substantial minutes so far this season, the team's net rating when he's on the court is a team-best 9.2
Domantas Sabonis - Not far behind Brogdon in that category is Sabonis. The team's net rating is +7.5 when he's on the court and a team-best 0.7 when he's off the court. Just like Brogdon, he's averaging career-highs across the boards - 18.9 points, 13.3 rebounds, and 3.6 assists. He's recorded a point-rebound double-double in 12 of the 15 games he's played.
The Rough Start
Just like the Pacers, the Kings had an average preseason, winning their last three games after losing the first two to the Pacers in Mumbai.
The regular season didn't begin well. In their first game in Phoenix, they gave up a five-point halftime lead to eventually lose by 29. After scoring 59 in the first half, they could only muster 36 in the second half as they committed 18 second-half turnovers.
Things continued going downhill from there. After the game in Phoenix, sophomore Marvin Bagley III was ruled out for 4-6 weeks after he suffered a broken right thumb.
At the end of October, their 0-5 start had left them to be the only winless team in the league.
For those five games, they held the 28th best offensive rating (97.2) and the 26th best defensive rating (113.8). For a team that finished just outside the playoffs (9th) while winning 39 games last season, this was not the start anybody expected.
The start of a new month in November brought forward a different team.
The Kings won seven of their next ten games with their only losses coming against the Toronto Raptors and the Los Angeles Lakers, both by a combined margin of just six points.
The run began with Harrison Barnes' late-game heroics vs. the Utah Jazz for the team's first win of the season:
A few games into their run, they lost starting point guard De'Aaron Fox for 4-6 weeks to a grade-3 ankle sprain but the Bogdan Bogdanovic stepped up the Kings kept chugging along.
During their 7-3 run, the Kings were holders of the 5th best offensive rating (111.6) and the 14th best defensive rating (108.4) - huge improvements from their numbers in October. They dropped a couple of games to the Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers before the break but they only lost both games by a combined margin of seven points - impressive performances against the elite of the East.
The Star Performers
Buddy Hield - He's averaging 22.3 points for the month of November, scoring 35+ twice - both times against the Boston Celtics. He's broke the franchise record for 3-pointers made in a game with 11 when he went off for a career-high 41 in the loss to the Celtics in Boston.
Bogdan Bogdanovic - With Fox out, Bogdanovic has taken over the Kings. Since Fox was missing games, he's averaging 19.6 points and 6.7 assists. He went off for a career-high 31 in one game where the Kings beat the Suns.
Richaun Holmes - With Marvin Bagley out, Harry Giles not fully healthy, and Dewayne Dedmon failing to play long minutes, the big man minutes were up for grabs and Holmes grabbed it by the throat. He's been a pivotal and vital piece to the Kings' turnaround, averaging career-highs of 10.9 points and 8.1 rebounds while registering four point-rebound double-doubles since the Kings' resurgence.
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