Well Indiana look horrible, but I am going to try put a positive spin on it.
Last year they were the 3 seed into the play-offs behind the Knicks and Heat, this year they finished first and the Knicks didn't even make the play-offs. They did it ugly, but it's an improvement in standings.
I will start with Paul George who when his name was called in 2010 draft people of Indiana were not impressed and no one knew who he was or what he brought. Paul George was not suppose to be this good, as a 24 year old and fourth year in NBA he was not suppose to be a 2xAll-Star, a number scoring option on a team, an all NBA defensive player, he is an off-season worker and his rise has been phenomenal.
Even when he started showing he could be a good player no one thought he could be this good, this soon. I mean he has no real consistent off sider in terms of scoring. I don't care who you are, it always helps to have another guy to lean on from time to time. He was great through the Hawks series and the only guy that brought it each night. The fact that he is a top 15-20 player already in his short career is impressive, not too mention he is a great two way player, that is rare in todays NBA on the wing.
Lance Stephenson did himself no favour's at the start of his career with the whole stair "incident." Did any one think he would be a border line All-Star and league leader in triple doubles? Doubt it, He has been a revelation in Indy, has improved his 3 point shot and become a two way player. Will he be back next year who knows, but he has proven he belongs and could be great in the right situation, I don't think that is Indiana however.
David West was old and injured coming off an ACL injury. He is the leader of the team and is clutch late in games, many thought Indiana took an unnecessary risk, but it has played out well.
Roy Hibbert is a 2xAll-Star he wasn't meant to be any sought of NBA player, he is struggling now but he has been important to Indiana and apart from the last 3 months of his 6 year career has exceeded expectations.
The way things should have panned out the Pacers future was with Granger and there is no way they should be what they are. They have done amazing things in Indiana and I am proud of this team. Paul George will get better and continue to rise he is still raw, but works hard and will adjust to being a star. I have no idea who stays after this season, personally I don't care if we blow it up, but I have to say thank you to these guys for making Indiana basketball relevant again.
You must be an optimist if you seen see the Brightside of Hibbert atm.
For the most part I agree with the assessment - well stated! But my concern for them going forward would be what's going to get better? George can still improve, as can Lance. But rumors suggest that Lance may test free agency and be gone. I don't know that we'll see Hibbert improve, West's best days are behind him and I think we have seen the best of Hill. If they don't advance this year when they have the #1 seed I'm not sure why I'd expect them to go further next year or the year after.
No one is necessarily going to get better, but if they are playing at their best (or at least significantly better than they're playing now), then they're one of the championship frontrunners and will have a legitimate shot at the title with this lineup.
If you aren't a fan of Indiana, you have to appreciate the way they lose games. After a series where it was DeMarre Carroll, Mike Scott, Pero Antic, and Shelvin Mack have improbable performances to help get Atlanta their 3 wins, they run into Trevor Ariza going 6 for 6 from behind the arc and Drew Gooden going nuts after Nene picks up his 4th foul early in the third. Oklahoma City ran into a Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph matchup that their best defense for was Steven Adams taking one on the chin, and then had Chris Paul spin a masterpiece. That is the way you expect a good team to drop games in the playoffs. This is where stars are made. Because of shorter rotations, attention to detail, better preparation, no back-to-backs or overly burdensome travel schedules, and overall stakes, you expect the cream to rise to the top. If Chris Paul has a Game 1 performance, all you can do is tip your cap. You aren't going to win that game, and there is nothing else to be taken away from last night. Nothing on that tape will have anything to do with Game 2 or beyond. When it is Drew Gooden who was without a job until late March, you just shake your head. Trevor Ariza is a good player, but he is not the guy you think is going to have the Danny Green game. If you are a Pacer fan, you just have to believe hope for history to repeat. After Game 1, Pero Antic was terrible. Scott, Carroll, and Mack could not sustain the excellence they flashed night in and night out. Trevor Ariza was great, but can he do it 4 times in 7 games? They made John Wall a jump shooter in Game 1, can they keep him out of the paint the entire series? If they can get Nene off the court in foul trouble, can they match the energy of Trevor Booker or Drew Gooden so you actually see the benefit of it?
It seems like everybody has counted the Pacers out of this series, but here's what I took away from game one.
The Pacers lost by 6 points considering:
- Paul George was 4-17, Lance Stephenson was 4-13 and David West 6-15. None of them had efficient games offensively. Their best players were George Hill (of all players) and Luis Scola.
- Pacers were outrebounded 53-36. Gave up *17* offensive rebounds.
- Trevor Ariza was 6/6 from three-point. Drew Gooden had 12 points and 13 rebounds. What are the chances of those two things happening again? VERY doubtful.
- Other than the Pacers being outscored 28-15 in the first quarter, they tied 28-28 in the second quarter, led 19-13 in the third quarter and led 34-33 in the fourth quarter.
My take away is that the Pacers came out flat in the first quarter and were playing catch up all game. George had his 2nd worst game of the playoffs. Pacers didn't do a good job defending shooters in transition. There are a ton of little things the Pacers could fix. And most of all, it's really just about bringing the energy and limiting the Wizards to one shot. Vogel needs to make adjustments.
I don't see this series as being over and like the Pacers are a dead team.
Bottomline - When Indiana was playing well, it had so much to do with the cohesion of the starting 5. Now their center is arguably the worst player starting in the playoffs (even including Perkins),
As long as Hibbert goes from great rim protector/DPoY candidate to awful player who can't play 20 minutes a night, the Pacers are no longer contenders. They may not be dead in this series, but I don't think because the Wizards outplayed them in Game 1 and a few role players stepped up, this somehow means the Pacers should feel good. The Wizards have a ton of different guys step up for them. Shouldn't they feel good Wall was 4-14 and Nene was 6-16 and they won on the road?