by Kent Sterling
How soon fans forget. Sure this four game losing streak is the first in two years, but how many of you remember the end of the regular season in 2013? It was the last time the Pacers lost five-of-six.
Nothing more was wrong then than is wrong today, and they took the Miami Heat to seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Remember last year’s first round playoff series against Atlanta? After winning the first two games by a total of 32 points, the Pacers went to Atlanta, and gakked up those games by – guess how many combined points – yes, exactly 32 points. Best of seven turned into best of three, and the City of Indianapolis went on emotional lockdown. The Pacers won in six.
In the second round of the playoffs against the Knicks, the Pacers looked terrible in the two losses – scoring an average of 77 points per game. If the Pacers hadn’t won Game Six (by only six), a trip back to Madison Square Garden for a clinching Game Seven would have been their penance. The Pacers did win, and both the Hawks and Knicks now suck.
That’s the thin line between success and failure in today’s NBA.
The Pacers are in the midst of a headache inducing stretch of the season that has fans moaning about the signing of Andrew Bynum, the Danny Granger for Evan Turner trade, and Eddie White’s selection of pocket hankies.
It’s all going to be okay. The Pacers are fine. Turner knows how to fit in with a group. Bynum is going to play at a high level because if he doesn’t, chances of his cashing giant checks as the result of another mega-deal are zero. The legs that are tired tired and balky will comeback. And the only question that will remain will focus on Eddie’s choice of fashion accessories.
This is what happens to good teams during an 82-game season, and the Pacers are a good team. No one in his right mind believed that the Pacers were going to double up on their first half record of 33-8.
Sometimes the schedule works for a team, and sometimes it doesn’t, and it’s going to start playing in their favor tomorrow night against Boston at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. That game will be followed by a trip to Philadelphia to play the truly awful 76ers, a trip to Detroit, a home game against the 76ers, and finally a trip to dreary old Manhattan to play the Knicks. Those five opponents are a combined 114 games under .500, and none are less than 15 games under.
It will be interesting to hear what the same hysterics think about the Pacers after they win those five games. They are like the crazies who run out to the grocery store to stock up on milk, bread, and eggs every time the weatherman forecasts snow. When the tide comes in, these people scream “FLOOD!”
A month ago, the Chicago Bulls were 24-25, and looked dead in the water. Minus injured Derrick Rose and traded Luol Deng, the experts thought a tailspin was imminent. Since than, they are 11-3, and those same experts believe the Bull could now disrupt the Pacers and Miami Heat inexorable march to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Five of the Bulls next eight opponents are San Antonio, Houston, OKC, and a home and away set with the Pacers. Let’s see what people say about the Bulls after they finish those eight games 4-4.
The Pacers don’t have a player who can be called great right now. Can Paul George become great? Personally, I think he’s too sane. Can Lance Stephenson be great? Maybe. David West and Roy Hibbert are who they are, and George Hill is a nice complimentary piece for a good team. One word that does not describe the Pacers is great.
There is a whole lot of good on the Pacers roster, maybe enough to win a championship if they get rolling in May and June, but they are not a 72 win team like the 1996 Bulls.
Pacers fans should stop expecting wins every time Paul George laces up his bedazzled shoes. That’s not who they are or what they will be, but what they are might be good enough to hang a banner.