Just wanted to make a quick post here that things have been crazy busy lately. Between spending a week at my in-laws thanks to car trouble, and then having an interview every day last week, there hasn't really been time to blog. When the dust settles around here a little bit, posts will resume, scout's honor.
Now, I'm off to wait to hear when my interview scheduled for today is. I was never given a time, still waiting to hear. Might be pushed back to tomorrow at this point, but we'll see. Keep your fingers crossed!
One of my favorite past times!
This picture appeared over on ESPN's Daily Dime. I took a screenshot in case it gets caught before all my dear readers get a chance to check it.
If there was any more proof you needed that the Pacers don't get the respect they deserve over at ESPN, this seems to be the smoking gun.
First off, Dahntay Jones does not appear in that picture. That would be AJ Price. The two don't even look similar. Take a look: Dahntay. AJ. Did you compare? Did you need to?
Secondly, while that is indeed Paul George with a towel on his head, it was George Hill that put up 20 points. Not the first time they've confused that. On SportsCenter top plays, they credited Paul George with George Hill's monster dunk a few weeks ago.
Oh well. Maybe they'll pay attention when the Pacers are in the Eastern Finals.
Weebly's editor got an update, and I like it. Not sure if you folks reading this will notice a difference in how this blog looks, but I pledge to bring you the same prophetic content as always.
Okay, so my predictions fall a little short of Moses. But, I think I pretty well nailed this one. I said the Pacers would win game two, and they did. I said later in the series, the Pacers would blow this Heat team out of the gym. Last night, Erik Spolestra emptied his bench with two or three minutes to go.
What's happened here? Well, Dan Dakich put the idea in my head, but it didn't take much convincing to put me in his camp. He said during his show yesterday (which was well before last night's game) that he thought the Pacers were just the better team, plain and simple. His evidence was pretty compelling.
Something my dad has always said, and I'm sure he's far from the only one, is that basketball games don't really start until halftime. You play the first half, figure out who's hot, who's not, what adjustments you need to make. Then you go out and play the second half and see who adjusted better. Usually the better team will come away with a win even when they are down at half, because they adjust better, and in many cases, have the athleticism to simply fatigue the opposing team and take advantage. This is especially glaring in college ball. How many times do you see a smaller team stay with a big school all through the first half, even take a lead into halftime, before they lose by 20 or 30?
It happens in the NBA, too, but usually the margins are smaller than in college. And I truly believe that's what's happening in this series. Without Chris Bosh to tighten the floor and draw out Roy Hibbert,* the Heat don't seem to have the horses to stick with Indiana.** Let's look at game two for a moment. The Pacers played absolutely horrible in the first half. Worst half of the playoffs, probably one of the worst halves of the year. But, they played good enough defense to keep the game at a five point deficit at half. In the second half, third quarter especially, the Pacers came out and pounded the Heat. The game really wasn't as close as the three point margin would indicate.
*A lot more about Hibbert and how he affects the series later.
**I don't know if anybody else has noticed, but I typically make it a point to call them the Pacers and shy away from saying Indiana. I'm sure it comes as no surprise, but that's because I don't like the similarity to IU. I've decided, for now, anyway, to go away from that. I know the sentiment behind the Indiana name as opposed to Indianapolis was to include the whole state and because there was a thought that this might become a barnstorming team of sorts. The playing games throughout the state thing didn't happen, I do like that they go out of the way to say "This is Indiana," not "This is Indy." So, yeah, I'm softening on that.
We finally got our car back yesterday, which meant I spent most of the afternoon listening to ESPN radio. it was funny to hear all the Miami people talking about this series and what they thought would happen. I really think that was my first indication that the Pacers might actually win this series. To a man, everybody connected in some way to the Heat went on about they still had enough to beat the Pacers and how this Heat team was just really hurting over losing Bosh and how they would figure out. And, of course, Lebron and Dwyane just had too much pride to let this team lose.
If those weren't simultaneously the biggest slap in the face and the most delusional things I heard yesterday. I won't disagree that the Heat really need Chris Bosh, but as I posted after the second game, the Pacers were better that night without Roy Hibbert. He sacked up and took some pride last night, playing maybe his best game as a pro, but there's no way you should have looked at game two and come to the conclusion that "If only we had somebody to stop Roy Hibbert or get him out of the game." That just wasn't based in reality in that game. Also, you know, just to assume that because you have these two guys, all-world as they may be, you will beat this team. I know Miami fans, at least before last night, didn't believe Indiana is for real. The rest of the nation might not have, either. Hopefully game three earned some respect.
On the last point, where did you get the idea that LeBron and Wade have "too much pride" to let a team lose? Since when have we ever heard about how LeBron James is lion-hearted? Have we forgotten how he absolutely quit on Cleveland before he bailed? How he ended up in Miami in the first place? How he totally disappeared in the fourth quarters of last year's finals? All those moments? Sorry, but it's LeBron's standard operating procedure to shut down if you get in his face, and Danny Granger knows that. Notice how things went the past two games when Granger got to jawing in LeBron's face.* And Wade? I know this is more from last night, but that whole confrontation with the coach last night? And how he sulked through most of that pivotal game? He has too much pride? If there was ever any ammo for Dwyane Wade being a crybaby, that would be Exhibit A.
*Related, but unless you've really been watching the Pacers the past few seasons, you might not know that Danny Granger is pretty hot-headed. I think Danny's great, but it doesn't take a whole lot to get him worked up and in somebody's face.
You know who isn't getting nearly the credit they should? Paul George. Paul George has been an absolute BAMF on defense. He's is too big, too long, and quite possibly too athletic for Dwyane Wade when he puts his mind to guarding him. Which was certainly the case the past two games. Wade was already being questioned for his output in game two, but he was absolutely shut down in game three. Credit nobody but Paul George. There were questions about whether Wade was injured. Only if Paul George is an injury. To a smaller degree, the same is true for Granger on LeBron. Yeah, LeBron got some points in the first half. But when Granger got a little rougher than LeBron wanted, he stopped scoring and turned into an absolute jump shooter. Which, he (nor Wade, for that matter) is not. I made that same point before game two. And if Shane Battier wants to keep jacking up threes, well, I think that 0-for performance last night shows just how comfortable the Pacers are with that.
The Pacers aren't going to blow out the Heat the next two games straight. I wouldn't be shocked if they win the next two games, but they will be closer. The Heat have two very talented players who will put some points up on the board, and somebody like Mario Chalmers last night will find a groove, and they will give the Pacers close games and will probably even win one or two. But after these last two games, I would be floored if the Pacers don't win this series. And I do think the Pacers will win on Sunday in Indy. And if you win this series, you've got either Philadelphia or Boston waiting for you, either of which I think the Pacers can beat. And once you're in the finals, who knows what could happen? The Spurs are a scary team right now, and the Thunder also look awfully good, but there's a real good chance they could wear each other out. But, let's not get ahead of ourselves. Let's go, Pacers! #BeatTheHeat
I may come back with a full post today, but for now, I'll be taking it a bit easy today. It's been a full week since I've been home for more than an hour, we've been jerked around a bit about this whole car business, and I'm just not feeling very motivated right now.
That, unfortunately, only applies to the Pacers. The car problems are not working out so great.
But, let's keep the focus on sports here. The Pacers managed to hold off the Heat in the second half. The first half was pretty awful. The team looked sluggish and simply overmatched. Even with the lack of size, the Pacers just seemed unable to get anything going on offense. When the Pacers did get looks, but, unfortunately, were totally unable to hit anything.
The second half couldn't be a more different story. The Pacers found their shooting stride and seemed to wear down the Heat. LeBron played an awful lot of minutes last night, sitting out for only about five minutes or so. Wade got a little more rest, sitting for about ten minutes. Both seemed worn down at the end of the game, though. Wade missed a layup that would have either tied it or taken the lead (I can't remember the exact score at the time). It wasn't an easy layup by any means, but one a decent NBA player should make most of the time. Definitely a layup somebody of Wade's caliber is going to make nine times out of ten. LeBron, for his part, missed two clutch free throws. If these guys are already starting to wear down, the Heat might be in real trouble. The big duo scored 52 of Miami's 75 points. Nobody else on the team scored more than five points.
True to form, the Pacers had four guys in double figures (Granger, West, George, and Hill) with two more with eight (Hibbert and Barbosa). Again, one of these things ESPN really ought to be pushing in this series. I haven't really watched ESPN since last night's win,* but that would be the story line I would write.
*Which is a big reason why this post is being written so late in the day.
A couple things did perplex me during last night's game, though. The Pacers were a better team without Hibbert on the floor last night, something I didn't think I would say. Sure, Hibbert has a size advantage, but LeBron especially and Wade to a smaller degree abused Hibbert on the defensive end. They floated in teardrop after teardrop as Hibbert was caught too far away from the basket to go for a block, but unable to draw closer for fear they would blow by him. The Pacers defense was much, much more solid defensively matching a smaller lineup with Miami's smaller, faster guys. With one caveat: Leandro Barbosa, no matter how excellent a scorer he may be, cannot guard Dwyane Wade. I have no idea why Barbosa kept on Wade through big chunks of the fourth quarter. Note, this didn't happen all night. For much of the night, Danny Granger took LeBron and Paul George took Wade, which worked out nicely. Granger has an idea of how to deal with LeBron from all those games they played while the LeBron was in Cleveland, and George's length seemed to really bother Wade. When Granger was out, though, George shifted over to LeBron, which was fine. I would have done the same thing. But I didn't understand why not shift George Hill, who is the much better defender, to Wade instead of Barbosa, who is pretty much a one-way player? That made a whole lot more sense to me.
Anyway, it was a great, hard-fought win. They'll do it again tomorrow, this time on ESPN from Banker's Life Fieldhouse. Feel very free to use #BeatTheHeat on Twitter. Oh, and a big congrats to Larry Bird on winning a well-deserved executive of the year award. A lot of fans were getting impatient with the Pacers rebuilding, but this year and this award validated that Bird knows basketball better than quite possibly anybody on the planet. Who else has won MVP, Coach of the Year, and Exec of the Year? Nobody, that's who. Sounds like a pretty solid argument to me.
Tonight, 7 PM, TNT. The Pacers take another crack at the Heat.
I'm feeling blunt today. I think the Pacers are going to win this one. They should have won this last one, but I've got a good feeling about tonight. The Pacers have some more tape to figure out what they stopped doing the second half that had worked so well in the first half. And, while he's certainly not on the same level as LeBron James or Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh is out.* That means that the Heat not only have to figure out how the team is going to adjust for the Pacers, but how they're going to adjust without a key cog in their gears.
*And out indefinitely, which I'm reading as probably out for at least this series, if not the playoffs.
I don't know if it will be tonight or not, but the Pacers are going to come out at some point in this series and blow the Heat out, too. I would say write it down, but, well, that's what we're doing here. At some point, the Pacers are going to shoot the lights out of the building from deep, and the Heat just won't have the firepower to match that. LeBron and Wade are great slashers and creators, but I don't think either are elite shooters. Doesn't mean I'd want to leave either of them wide open from outside, but I don't think the Heat are going to win very many games if they have to depend on those guys making threes. And if the Pacers are draining them, the Heat are going to need to. And how comfortable do you feel with the game in the hands of Mike Miller? From where I'm sitting, I'm find by that.
Anyway, our car should be back on the road sometime today, which means we'll finally be back in our own bed. While I certainly appreciate my in-laws and their hospitality, I'm really excited to be back in our own place with our own stuff. I will miss the HD, though.
The Pacers let one get away. It wasn't as bad a choke job as game one of the last series, and against a much better team, but the Pacers definitely had every opportunity to take that game. There is some comfort in knowing that the Pacers definitely hung with Miami and I think showed the NBA viewing public that they aren't going to just get walked all over.
Here's the rub with the moral victory thing, though. The Pacers and Pacer fans didn't have to be convinced that this team could hang with Miami. They've seen it with their own eyes. Still, if the Pacers don't learn how to close out these games, this series might be shorter than it ought to be.
I'm not in panic mode quite yet, though. Like I referenced earlier, the Pacers had a staggeringly bad loss to Orlando in the first game of that series, and in Indianapolis, no less. They bounced back and took the next four straight relatively easily. This isn't exactly the same thing, but the Pacers had the Heat down for three quarters or better in that game before finally losing it at the end. I know the team wasn't happy with the officiating, and I wasn't entirely pleased, either. But, that wasn't the difference here.
The Pacers, unfortunately, kind of freaked out a little bit. When Miami made their run in the third quarter, I thought the team did a very good job of responding and keeping the game tied by the end of the quarter. But the panic was starting to set in. You could see* that the sets weren't nearly as crisp in the second half, which led to quite a few wild passes. The shot selection was, well, not as a prudent as the first half. We'll put it that way. I'm sure some of that was because the Pacers were having trouble adjusting to the new Miami defense. Lastly, the three pointer was virtually non-existent. Miami wasn't having any luck with it, either, thankfully, but we saw in the Orlando series that the Pacers need that shot to be successful.
*And the broadcast team made sure you didn't miss it. I don't know how many times this was said, during the third quarter especially.
Going forward, I think the Pacers are still going to be able to win two or three games at least in this series. This team is not going to stay cold forever, and I think they'll be less intimidated as the series wears on. Chris Bosh, you might have noticed, didn't play in the second half after injuring himself right before halftime. If that knocks Bosh out for a few games, or the series, it could be a huge blow for the Heat, because the Pacers already had Miami out-sized. That should magnify that advantage. Danny Granger is also not going to spend too many halves scoreless, as he was in the first half yesterday.*
*I don't think the Pacers really missed his scoring, though. That's not a blow against Danny, either. Just an indication of how this Pacer team is built. You know, as a team. Not a superstar or two and then his supporting cast. Please, ESPN, you need to be playing up this angle during this series. It really writes itself.
So, yeah, as disappointing as yesterday was, the Pacers still having something left in the tank to win a few of these games. This was not an inferior team taking its best shot and simply falling short. I'm not picking the Pacers to win this series, and I haven't all along. But they will win some games, I promise you that.
I had a nice post about Bryan LaHair and Purdue's record-setting baseball season, but it was eaten by the internet. And now I frankly don't have the time to rewrite it, as it looks like I'll be spending the next week at the in-laws place thanks to the car situation. I'm off to pack. See you on Monday, folks.
Sorry for the delay, folks. I've been busy dealing with some car trouble the past couple days. Of course, the car wouldn't act up for the mechanic, so nothing was done. We put in some additives to try to take care of the problem, though, so keep your fingers crossed for us.
Anyway, while I've been away, the Pacers put away the Magic in five, which I thought they would. The Heat also put the Knicks away in five. To be honest, I'm surprised New York managed to win a game at all.
I'll be upfront here. I don't think the Pacers are quite ready to beat the Heat in a best of seven. On the other hand, can the Pacers push the Heat to six or seven games? I think so.
The Pacers have played the heat tough the past few years. This season, the Heat are 3-1 against the Pacers. Game one was closer than you would think going by the final score, 118-83 in favor of the Heat. The Pacers held close for half the game, but the game did eventually get away from the Pacers. The second game also doesn't look great by the final score (105-90, Heat), but a lot of that was an awful first quarter by the Pacers. They were playing catch up all night and just didn't get there. The Heat won the third game as well, but this one was close by any standard. Final score of 93-91 in overtime, and the Pacers led at halftime. In the final game, the Pacers finally beat the Heat, 105-90. It was a lot like the previous Heat-Pacer games, but the Pacers finally were the team that were just a little bit better.
In a seven game series, when both teams are going to get to know each other pretty intimately, I think you'll find that these teams are more closely matched than most national media would like to admit. Sure, the Heat have the superstars, which will most likely be enough firepower to win the series. But the Pacers are a pretty complete team, which should let them win two or three games, especially if the Pacers can find a way to slow down LeBron and/or Wade. And, you know, if the Mavericks could pull off the big upset last year, it wouldn't be the most shocking upset if the Pacers could do so as well.
And not to get ahead of myself, but with the Bulls looking awfully banged up, that gives the Pacers a very good shot to find themselves as Eastern Conference champions if they can find a way to get past the Heat.
Anyway, I'm not banking on that. One series at a time. This series tips off on Sunday, which is Mother's Day, of course, so I don't know that I'll get to watch it live. Still, watching it live or recorded, you'll want to know it's Sunday at 3:30 on ABC. Let's hope the Pacers don't freeze up on a national broadcast, which definitely happened the last series.
The Pacers blew a nineteen point lead in the fourth quarter. They looked on cruise control the whole game, and when the game was pulling tight late in the fourth, I got ugly flashbacks from game one and have terrible visions of such a lopsided series going to 2-2. Even getting off to a hot start in overtime wasn't enough put me at ease. Then, finally, after some clutch George Hill free throws and Glen Davis taking a tough shot, I could breathe easy. Pacers lead three games to one and coming back to Indianapolis.
Am I thrilled they won? Of course! Am I worried because they've blown two big leads? A little, but not too bad. There was nothing good about game one, don't get me wrong. But when you're on the road against a desperate team, I can forgive that a little bit. All that matters now is the Pacers come back home and take care of business.
That leads us to a series with the Heat, which, well, I'm less confident about, but we'll tackle that when we get there. The bigger news is I have a new header photo, which is compliments of my wonderful wife, Kristine. As much as I love Wabash's stadium, I've always kind of felt like Victory Field is my "home" stadium, at least as far as watching games is concerned. We were there yesterday with my dad, brother, and his fiance, and my wife snapped this picture with her iPhone. I've always been slightly uncomfortable using the old picture, because I didn't exactly ask permission for it. I didn't figure it bothered anybody at Wabash, but it still didn't feel right. When Kristine snapped this great shot at the game yesterday,* I had a decent idea of what I would want to do with it.
*Which the Indians won, it should be pointed out. They're off to a pretty good start, but I (along with most of the city/state) am a little too preoccupied with the Pacers to worry about baseball yet.
Anyway, that's really about it for today. Weight lifting awaits.