Pacers vs. Magic, Game One, was a gut-scrambling watch for this native Hoosier. Well, duh, you say, Indiana lost to an obviously inferior team, at home, and it was really ugly, and it just proves that the Pacers aren’t ready to take the Next Step, and even if they do get by Orlando, a Miami series is going to be just no fun at all.
All very true, I’m saying it too. The Pacers should not have been beaten by a team led by Jameer Nelson, Jason Richardson (a middling third banana, at his peak) and the marvellously inefficient Glen Davis, and though the Enlightened part of my mind says there’s lots of basketball left to play, the Reactive part is lighting up with disaster scenarios: Ryan Anderson was awful! What if he gets going, too! and Nelson just obliterated George Hill off the dribble, and Darren Collison was pesky on defense, but only against Chris Duhon, and if Roy Hibbert can’t hit that jump hook over a fat 6-foot-8 guy, what’s he going to do against a real center after the Pacers give him $60 million this offseason, and WHAT THE BLANKETY BLANK DANNY a travel and over-and-back sequence in the last 30 seconds is a GREAT way to establish yourself in the national eye as a humble semi-star worthy of inclusion in those montage highlights that are the NBA’s canonization process.
Now that that’s out, happy thoughts must prevail. There are very few sweeps of seven-game series, and the Pacers are playing a club that’s done a good deal more in May and June recently. Chris Mullin, in all of his Brooklynite eloquence, said several times of Indiana “that’s a tough step, going from an eight to a three-seed.” The tougher step, though, is winning a series. And then two, or three, or four. Playoff basketball is an entirely different entity than the regular season, and what Indiana has yet to learn (and Memphis, too, after their devastating giveaway Sunday night) is that getting buckets in the last minutes can’t be a chuck-it-up-there affair. You gots to dance the same steps that got you there, and those, especially against this Orlando team, include going through Hibbert and David West. Otherwise, you get the same sort of late offensive incompetence that plagued them in that quite close first round five-game series last year against Chicago, saying “Granger’s our best player, give it to him” while conveniently forgetting that he’s not much of a creator.
Also, Paul George had eight points, and two open 3s rim out in the closing minutes. He turns 22 on Wednesday; then the Pacers will be OK.
In all, this was already the Public Access series coming in, particularly without Dwight playing-Games Two and Three are on NBA TV, if you need proof-and the level of play was appropriately Dr. Steve Brulesque. Thus, the lead-in commercial on ESPN was apropos: I give you Jimmy Johnson talking about improving his nether regions: