by Kent Sterling
Make no mistake – I want the Indiana Pacers to win their current series against the Washington Wizards, and then beat the Miami Heat (what, you think Brooklyn has a chance to win three straight?), but this is exhausting.
The Pacers appear to be a bunch of good and earnest guys who want nothing more than to win, but have great difficulty marshaling the necessary effort to compete at the highest level from one night to the next.
They are fascinating. They are maddening. They are unpredictable. They are compelling as hell.
Every game is like the sequel to the previous game, and tomorrow night we get to see the premiere of Indiana Pacers ’14 XIII. Sequels other than “The Godfather II” are all redundant re-visits that never measure up to the original. The 13th edition of Pacers vs. Wizards will have no problem exceeding Pacers fans’ expectations generated by the 12th.
“Caddyshack II,” “Jaws II,” “Porky’s II,” “Dumb and Dumberer,” “The Next Karate Kid,” and “Blues Brothers 2000” are among the worst offenders of filmed brand extension cash grabs. Fans of the Pacers are being subjected to an unending barrage of sequels that are alternately thrilling and exhausting.
If games were movies, last night’s Game Five between the Pacers and Wizards would be titled “Pacerbusters – Gortat’s Return”
The Wizards are a reasonable facsimile of an NBA playoff team with a couple of legit talents and some journeymen brewed into a functional stew by Randy Wittman, but they aren’t legit villains. LeBron James, now there’s a villain! Bradley Beal and Marcin Gortat seem like nice guys who are as schizoid as the Pacers.
This series is “The Nightmare on Pennsylvania Avenue,” but with the cast of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” as a collective Freddy. And it’s no different from the perspective of Wizards fans.
Adjustments made by either Pacers coach Frank Vogel or Wittman should be via a psychiatrist. Gortat with 2 points in Game Four followed by last night’s 31 or Lance Stephenson putting up his first doughnut in the rebounding category in the 90 games he has played this season cannot be explained through typical basketball schematics.
That Roy Hibbert played terribly in both games one & five, and like an all-star in the other three defies explanation, but Paul George’s malaise last night might have been predetermined by his extended minutes and effort in Game Four. Nah, that’s way too logical to be true.
Maybe this whole season has been an extended version of “Hamlet” with Paul George as the troubled prince, Stephenson and Hibbert as comic relief Rosencrantz and Gildenstern. David West is the passionate Laertes. George Hill isn’t exactly Hamlet’s best friend Horatio, but he’s close enough. And Larry Bird is Claudius, the king.
To be or not to be will be the question answered tomorrow and perhaps Sunday night as the Wizards and Pacers continue their arduous and seemingly never ending battle to determine which team is weirder.
There is madness, physical battle, backbiting, potential loss of wealth, and failure for one of the teams. Whether moving on to the next round is a just result for either team is debatable, but NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is not going to step in and mandate neither team advance.
And that’s a good thing because the Pacers are going to beat the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. How do I know that? Because it would be the most confounding result possible, and the ability to astonish is the Pacers defining trait.