Indiana Pacers: Playoff return built on more than just Paul George

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The Indiana Pacers are back in the playoffs. After a year of obscurity, the Indianapolis-based organisation secured their spot in the postseason action thanks to a win over the Brooklyn Nets. 

Much of the praise will go to Paul George. Of course it will. The forward capped an incredible recovery from a compound fracture to both of the bones in his lower right leg to be named to the Eastern Conference All-Star team in Toronto and take his franchise back to the playoffs. 

But the Pacers' success has been built on more than just a sole superstar. Head coach Frank Vogel has done a sterling job in helping the organisation, who suffered defeat in the playoffs to the LeBron James-led Miami Heat in three consecutive seasons, back to where they feel they belong. 

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No Pacers article is complete without a special mention to George, who has averaged 23.2 points and seven rebounds per night through his 80 appearances this season. But we will concentrate on the parts around the main man who have contributed to a strong season for the 2000 Eastern Conference champions. 

Having departed with Solomon Hill, David West, and Roy Hibbert, the major components of their starting five, along with a number of rotation options, two arrivals, in particular, have stood out for the Central Division team.

Monta Ellis, who was once considered by some Golden State Warriors fans to be a better option at the point, has taken over from West in the starting five having joined as a free agent.

He may not be scoring the ball at the same rate we saw at the Oracle Arena or in Dallas, in fact, he is averaging the lowest points per game since his rookie season in the Bay, with 13.9 points per night. 

He is also averaging less field goal attempts per game than he has since his first year as a pro. But without the scoring, he has been providing 4.8 assists, pulling down 3.4 rebounds and stealing the ball 1.8 times a night. 

He has been a major contribution to a defensive unit that ranks the fourth highest in steals and boasts the third-best opponent three-point percentage. As a unit, the Pacers are also giving away considerably less shooting fouls and have faced a lesser number of free throws as a result. 

Rookie Myles Turner has been another positive for the Pacers and head coach Vogel. The University of Texas product has started 29 of his 58 outings for the franchise and has piled on averages of 10.4 points and 5.8 rebounds per night while shooting a very respectable 49.8 percent. 

Those statistics rank him fifth out of all rookies in rebounds and seventh in points per game. As the season has advanced, he has become a vital part of what Vogel is trying to build at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

While the accolades for Indiana's playoff return will go to their star man, Vogel is building a solid foundation within the franchise that will see them be many peoples' tip for this year's Cinderella story. 

Eastern Conference
Paul George
Indiana Pacers
Central Division
Monta Ellis

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