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Where Lakers and Celtics can look for inspiration

Even with a disappointing loss Monday in Detroit where officiating upset them, the Pacers are 8-2 in February. They’re back in third place in the East. They’re second in defensive rating in the league for the month (speaking of teams you probably haven’t been paying attention to, the Orlando Magic are first).

Coach Nate McMillan has sold his team on role definition, which is hard enough with your average NBA squad. Considering McMillan has six key players who will be free agents this summer and another, Domantas Sabonis, playing for an extension, that’s a stacked deck that he has been able to manage.cheap nike nfl jersey

McMillan, president Kevin Pritchard and GM Chad Buchanan have an open-door policy when discussing free agency internally. If a player wants to talk about it, management is unafraid. They run a business, and in Indiana it’s not a bottomless money business, but they’ve tried to be transparent when the topic arises.6

Whether that’s a secret to success or not, the Pacers don’t play like a team full of guys worried about their next paycheck. They happily play an egalitarian offense that spreads it around with seemingly minimal ego or agenda issues. They’ve had at least five double-figure scorers 52 times in 61 games, the highest number in the league. They’ve had seven players in double figures 12 times; they’re 11-1 in those games.

They have veterans who are leaders, Thaddeus Young especially according to those around the team, and players who seem to be agreeable to platooning — particularly their point guards and big men — depending on matchups. And if they aren’t, it hasn’t become public.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Their March schedule is brutal and they might not hang on to the No. 3 seed until the wire. But their professionalism during some challenges has been exemplary. And frankly, it could be an example to some of their peers out there.

Namely, one of the teams that’s eating their dust at the moment is Boston. The Celtics have been anything but together for so much of this season. A root has been Kyrie Irving and some of his younger teammates, who have grated on one another as they’ve looked to work toward opposite purposes repeatedly during the season.