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Emptying The Notebook: Pacers 112 Pistons 104

Corey Elliot

ISR Senior Writer

DETROIT-I have never been an advocate of the saying “a win is a win”. That’s not even a rationalization; that’s an excuse.

Provide a brief recap of the game you just watched. If you’ve just explained everything the winning team did wrong, or could have done better, and followed it with “but a win is a win” you’re making excuses and avoiding the obvious issues at hand.

After Friday night’s win over the Philadelphia 76ers fans took to twitter spewing “a win is a win” and “not pretty, but I’ll take it”. Good for all of you; there is nothing quite like settling—I’d love to have a four bedroom house, but I’ll take the one bedroom apartment instead. There is a difference between the type of team that carries the mindset of “we’ll take it where we can get it” and “even in a victory, that performance was still not acceptable.”

The Indiana Pacers, for all intents and purpose, are the latter of the two. Over the last three years the Pacers have developed a culture of winning, success and the expectations of both. At 49-17, there is absolutely no reason to over think the recent rocky-road of struggles. It’s not the end of the world. Don’t panic. But it could be a foreshadowing of an early end to a season come playoff time, a season that promised so much before the All Star break.

Perspective: If anyone would have said the Pacers would be on the doorstep of 50 wins and only 17 losses in mid-March, I would have been very reluctant to co-sign on such a statement. Credit to them for exceeding preseason expectations, they certainly deserve as much.

This isn’t preseason, though. We all know where this team could be in June.

It’s hard to fully be satisfied anymore. Indiana has become a victim of their own success. That comes with the territory of championship caliber teams; win a lot and often, make deep playoff runs and suddenly you’re out of breathing room when it comes remotely close to hitting the fan.

Indiana is out of breathing room.

Frank McGrath-Pacers.com
Frank McGrath-Pacers.com

While they won their third straight game Saturday night (in overtime) 112-104 over the Detroit Pistons, they haven’t shown the signs of a team hitting it’s stride at the right time, peaking towards the playoffs full steam ahead. Yes, kudos to Indiana for fighting back and prevailing. However, that would be a different pat-on-the-back if it were against a worthy opponent. As far as wins and losses go, sure, they still count as wins but it’s nothing to get excited about. If you were watching the last three games, all against sub-.500 teams, it’s obvious that the Pacers are still pouring water out of the boat, trying to plug the hole.

Roy Hibbert hasn’t even been a shell of an All Star, max-contract center–he had 12 points and five rebounds against Detroit. As far as issues out of the Pacers’ control, late-season injuries are starting to throw a wrench in the day-to-day operations with one or more person ailing a shoulder or hand, etc. If it weren’t for Andrew Bynum surprising us all with his solid play, and Evan Turner doing what he was traded for, the Pacers might be a lot worse than 13-7 in their last 20 games. Bynum had 15 points and nine rebounds on Saturday night. While Turner finished with 20 points, Paul George‘s 30 points, seven assists and eight rebounds have confirmed he is still very much hungry to become the undisputed third-best player in the league.

Indiana has to put together a string of wins like they started the season with. They have been getting and will continue to get every opponents best game. In four of their last five losses their opponents have scored over 100 points. That’s a big deal for the NBA’s best defensive team. I’m seriously beginning to question how the Pacers would fare in a best-of-seven series if an opponent was able to do half of what some of the recent opponents have done to Indiana.

Indiana isn’t intimidating anyone anymore. That absolutely has to change. The road to the NBA Finals still goes through South Beach.

Corey Elliot is a Senior Writer at the Indy Sports Report and is recognized as an accredited member of the media by the Pacers and has full media access.  Follow Corey and the ISR on Twitter

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