If you’re an Indianapolis sports fan, and you’re not smiling this morning – you are really hard to please.
Wins by the Colts and Pacers yesterday put the cherry on top off a spectacular sundae of action that began with another Pacers win on Friday in Philly against the team with the best home record in the NBA.
In between, Saturday’s Crossroads Classic was a classic in every sense – unless you’re a Butler or Purdue fan. Indiana’s buzzer beater from Big Shot Bob Phinisee was a fitting conclusion to a great celebration of Indiana’s game.
Butler didn’t deserve to go home losers, but to quote Clint Eastwood’s character in Unforgiven, “deserve’s got nothing to do with it.” Indiana was carried offensively by Juwan Morgan with a very efficient 35 points, but his 12 made buckets are not what people continue to talk about this morning.
With the score tied at 68, Devonte Green tried in vain to get the ball to teammate Romeo Langford as seconds dwindled. Langford couldn’t clear his defender, so Green dealt to Phinisee as he popped free moving to his left 35-feet from the basket. He caught, dribbled once, exploded into the air, and released with 0.3 seconds left.
The shot was true and pure, and the result sent the IU partisans in the crowd into delirium as the Hoosiers mobbed Phinisee.
Indy barely had time to catch its breath before the Colts kicked off yesterday against the Cowboys at Lucas Oil Stadium. This game lacked the drama of the IU win, but the result was as sweet. The Colts never allowed the Cowboys a moment’s hope as they served notice yet again that despite their 1-5 start, no one should hope to play them in the playoffs.
The 8-6 Colts chance to go to the playoffs bounced to 48%, and stands at 93% if they can run the table in the final two games of the season vs. Giants this Sunday and at Tennessee in the season finale December 30th.
The Pacers are tied for second in the East after their current seven-game win streak with Myles Turner playing at an all-star level, Victor Oladipo healthy, and the woeful Cleveland Cavaliers visiting tomorrow night.
Where the roads lead for the Colts, Pacers, and Hoosiers is anybody’s guess, but it’s brighter and smoother than it’s been in a long time.
The last time the Colts made the playoffs was 2014, and the Pacers last won a playoff series in the same year. Since then, IU has played in just two of five NCAA Tournaments – winning only three games.
May the roll continue!
Kent Sterling hosts the fastest growing sportstalk show in Indianapolis on CBS Sports 1430 every weekday from 3p-7p, and writes about Indiana sports at kentsterling.com.