Search This Blog

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Pacers: Indiana’s Babies

Lance Stephenson is in LeBron James’ head? The Pacers beat the Heat in Game 4 if the refs don’t give it away, according to Paul George? Roy Hibbert would have scored more than zero points (again) if the game plan called for it?

Let’s try an exercise, fellow readers. Point your finger. Point it anywhere. Just one…. Now look at the other fingers on your hand. Old sayings become old because they are timeless and true: whenever you stop to point a finger, there are three more pointing right back at you.

George has 25,000 reasons to learn from his past mistakes. 1

I’ve always said that the NBA Playoffs make for the best theater of the major North American team sports. The NFL has the best action. MLB offers more unexpected twists. But the NBA delivers the best theater.
There is a difference, however, between adult delivering an athletic theatrical performance and people acting like they’re in a high school drama class. If you’ve followed the 2014 NBA Eastern Conference Finals and/or the Indiana Pacers for any stretch of this playoff run, you know where they fall. It would be funny if it weren’t so silly.


The Pacers were one game away from advancing to the 2013 NBA Finals. In 2014, they raced to the best record in the Eastern Conference. They split the four game regular season series with the three-time defending conference champion Miami Heat, with the home team winning every game. The Pacers set themselves up to dethrone the two-time NBA champions.

Indiana has a young team. Power forward David West is the only Pacers’ starter over the age of 28. He is one of only five players on the entire roster over the age of 30. He appears to be the only grown up in a Pacers’ uniform. In a game in which the most respected “talking” is done with one’s game on the court, too many of the players appear to have gotten that concept backwards.

The Pacers began to wilt near the end of the regular season. Conspicuously poor performances, a lack of accountability, attention grabbing headlines in the media, and an undertone of finger pointing threatened to derail the regular season goal of clinching home court in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Indiana started off with a 46-13 record. They limped to the end of the regular season with a 56-26 record, nipping the (coasting) Miami Heat by two games for the top seed in the conference.

Seeing zeros in Hibbert's box score is becoming less unusual with each occurrence. 2

The Pacers fell behind the 8th seeded Atlanta Hawks, 3 games to 2. The Hawks had a sub-.500 record in the regular season. Nonetheless, with center Roy Hibbert becoming an offensive black hole and players looking disconnected, the Pacers went into Atlanta for Game 6 facing elimination.

The Pacers are vastly superior to the Hawks in talent. They couldn’t drop a best-of-seven to the Hawks if they tried (though it appeared they were at times). The Pacers cleaned up the glaring messed a Forrest-Gumped their way into the second round against the Washington Wizards, offering more of the same underwhelming basketball in Game 1 of that Eastern Conference Semifinals series.

The Pacers appeared to return to their pre-meltdown form in Game 2, with small forward Paul George and Roy Hibbert having breakout playoff performances. After beating the Heat in Game 1 of the Conference Finals, the NBA appeared to have the showdown that it expected between these two teams for much of the regular season.

Yes, David West. It's like that. 3


Miami is leading in this series three games to one. In each of Miami’s three wins, they appear to get better and beating Indiana and Indiana seems to get better at beating itself. For all of the talk that the Pacers have done leading up to and during this series, all they have to show for it is a trip home for Game 5 facing elimination and Paul George’s pockets being $25,000 lighter after criticizing the officials following a Game 4 romp by Miami, 102-90, that was never as close in the 4th quarter as the final score may indicate.

Here are the cold, hard facts, Pacers Fan: The Heat are a better NBA basketball team. The Pacers have a better, younger collection of basketball players. NBA championships are won by teams. They are led by their starts, but the titles are won by teams. The Pacers appear to be drowning in their own immaturity and searching for a key to beating a two-time champion with three or four future Hall of Famers on the roster. They will never find that key until they tune out the superficial and trivial and focus on beating their opponent in every possession, every quarter, and in each game.

The Pacers are not going to sniff the Finals until they stop reading their own headlines and, instead, write the headlines that they wish to see themselves. Thirty-three year old All-Star David West is the team’s veteran leader and an example the younger players should follow. Much like one can only lead a horse to water, West can only show his younger counterparts how (and how not) to carry themselves deep in the post season. The Pacers will never drink the refreshment of a conference championship until they grow up and focus. It is not a coincidence that the key players of the two front runners in each conference, the Heat and San Antonio Spurs, are either near or over the age of 30. It shows.  

Don't pack up for the summer yet! The Heat cheerleaders have a few more games on their schedules this season. 4
Don't forget to vote in the fan polls! 

To advertise with The Daily Hat Trick, or to submit a guest column, please contact the editor at

1) Image from
2) Image from
3) Image from
4) Image from

No comments:

Post a Comment