By Josh Kramer
It is no secret that the Indiana Pacers have finally returned from their seven-year hiatus following the infamous, “Malice at the Palace.” There is a reason why many, including myself, pronounced the Pacers as the sleeper team in the Eastern Conference. Indiana has a good thing going, and will be a force to be reckoned with come playoff time.
Wednesday night, they handled business at arguably the toughest arena to visit in the NBA, the United Center. Sadly though, they did not finish the job. The Pacers showed signs of their immaturity and inexperience via a very excessive post-game celebration (more on this later). Going into Wednesday, Chicago, who also happens to be the team with the best record in the Eastern Conference was 8 and 0 at home. Well the dreams of an undefeated home record were dashed on Wednesday by the very balanced attack of Indiana.
Indiana is a team that can beat you in so many ways. They play outstanding defense. They hit the boards hard. And they have a very balanced scoring attack where you never knew who is going to have the hot hand. Sounds like an old-school team to me. Sounds a little bit like what Chicago has going. Defense, rebounding, and all-around team basketball. It is a shame that more teams today do not utilize this age-old proven formula.
Five players on this very young Pacers squad average double-digit points a night. In addition, two other players average 9.5 and 9.9 points respectively. In addition, they have nine players averaging over a full quarter of playing time a night. And finally, how about the emergence of Roy Hibbert? Did anybody envision this guy turning into an All-Star caliber center (I know I did not)? Hibbert in a way brings me back to the 90s, when guys like Ewing, O’Neal, Olajuwon, and Robinson dominated the game of basketball. Hibbert scores, rebounds, and D’s up. The only part of his game that needs work is his free throw shooting (currently shooting a less than stellar 66.7%).
Now back to the topic that I mentioned earlier. I always have been a heavy proponent of guys “Who act like they have been there before.” I think it is a sign of a good sport and a true professional. Unfortunately, Indiana failed in a big way to act like they had been there before on Wednesday. Many can say and will say that Derrick Rose and his Bulls teammates are vastly overreacting, but either way, Indiana has added fuel to the fire of the team that they are currently chasing. Not the best of ideas.
Derrick Rose is the reigning MVP and a very quiet leader. Following Indiana’s excessive celebration in Chicago on Wednesday, Rose was quoted as saying the following, “I’ll never forget how they celebrated just from winning this game. I can’t wait to play them again.” I cannot ever remember a time where Derrick Rose has spoken out like this in his young career. I do know one thing. Rose is a highly motivated guy already. You do not want him to be out for blood. In addition, Indiana’s win on Wednesday was great. But also realize they did it against a Chicago team that featured a less than 100% Derrick Rose and no Luol Deng. Deng is Chicago’s second leading scorer and a key piece to the puzzle in the Windy City.
Indiana is having a phenomenal year and I am very excited for the Pacer fans who have had to suffer for the better part of seven years. But the excessive celebration on Wednesday night was a major mistake. Never ever give the team you are chasing bulletin board material. Act like you have been there before and let your actions on the court do the talking.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.