by Kent Sterling
The Chicago Bulls hammered the Brooklyn Nets 113-86 last night to help the Indiana Pacers gain control of their own playoff fortunes. A win tonight against the Washington Wizards couple with another tomorrow at Memphis, and the Pacers are in.
After winning five straight, the Pacers appear to be rolling, but they have shown a proclivity toward malaise once in a comfortable position. Just over a month ago, the Pacers had won 13-of-15 and appeared to be cruising toward the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference when energy left the roster and suddenly the Blue and Gold lost 9-of-11.
They rebounded from the brink of elimination with their current five-game winning streak that has them two competent performances from earning an eight seed in the wide open East where every single playoff team has gone either 6-4 or 7-3 in their last 10 games.
A betting man would never lay money on a team up and down enough to earn a starter’s prescription of Lithium because it seems they routinely defy expectations. Washington is locked in as the five seed, so they are playing for pride alone, so this is the kind of game the Pacers have shown an inability to win. That is exactly why I believe the Pacers win tonight and then again tomorrow in Memphis.
Do the Pacers get in? Yep, and with Paul George regaining his health game by game, I think the Pacers will find a way past the Atlanta Hawks, who are now forced to play the rest of the season without defensive stopper Thabo Sefolosha.
When I was in high school, I signed up for the square dance club because I assumed I would get a chance to dance with girls in a low stress environment where my lack of rhythm would not be exposed due to the rigidity of the form. The most stressful part of the weekly get togethers was when the guys and girls lined up to pair off.
All the guys counted where they stood in line, and then tried to figure out who the corresponding girl was. Then jockeying began. All the guys tried to line up with the girl they were dating, or at least avoid those in whom they had no interest.
And that is how I imagine prison.
Whether you survive your stay in a government-run high-security establishment depends entirely on the level of psychosis from which your randomly assigned celly suffers.
If you went to prison and were paired with former Nebraska and St. Louis Rams running back Lawrence Phillips, that would be the equivalent of being mated in square dance club with Dottie Charmaine – the acne scarred and rotund sophomore who has been thrice suspended from school for smoking in the front row of remedial English class.
Phillips is suspected of murdering his cellmate at the rough and tumble Kern Valley Prison in Central California. He’s serving a soon-to-be much longer stretch for driving his car into three teenagers at a pickup football game in 2006 and twice choking his then-girlfriend in 2005.
“Inmate Sterling, meet inmate Phillips. Have fun boys!” would not be the kind of welcome to prison life that would allow restful sleep.
The Chicago Cubs are 4-2 on the young 2015 season and all alone in first place in the National League Central after winning two games they undoubtedly would have lost in 2010-2014. Late inning heroics from Dexter Fowler and Arismendy Alcantara, along with a virtually flawless bullpen have been the difference.
It’s not time to print playoff tickets, but there is a different aura around this team than has been seen on the northside of Chicago in several years. Even in 2008 – the last time the Cubs went to the playoffs – there was a fool’s gold quality to that team that Joe Maddon that seems absent from this group.
When Kris Bryant reports to Chicago, this team could get good. Reasonably solid work from the starting rotation might be all the Cubs need to turn ahead the clock for playoff worthy baseball at Wrigley Field to 2015.