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Emptying The Notebook: Pacers 96 Warriors 98


Corey Elliot
ISR Senior Writer

INDIANAPOLIS-Time is not in favor of those who wait. There are 63,360 minutes of basketball left for the Indiana Pacers before the NBA Playoffs. Right now, the Pacers can’t afford to waste any of it on figuring things out.

Hold it. This is reality, Indianapolis. You’re unsatisfied, as of late, with a 46-14 team. Let’s put things in perspective. The Pacers created the standards they are now falling short of on some nights. As victims of their own success, it certainly can be blown out of proportion as to the level of play Indiana is performing at. In the last 10 games the Pacers are 6-4, however they still lead the Eastern Conference and if you ask Evan Turner and Lavoy Allen I’d imagine they’re pretty content.

I don’t agree with most that are looking at the glass half-empty when it’s well over half-full. Pacers fans need to put their hearts aside from their brains. Indiana is in the playoffs with a Detroit loss and a Pacers win. It’s March 5th.  Can you remember the last time the blue and gold had it locked up like that?

Regardless, I get it. There has been too many of these nights like Tuesday night’s 98-96 loss to the Golden State Warriors for anyone to invest their whole-hearted trust into the Pacers the way they did before the bumpy, winding road of head scratching losses that have popped out of nowhere lately like a stubborn deer in the headlights. No worries, you’re not crazy; it’s a common feeling these days.

“Mentally we’ve got to be way tougher than we are because it’s time. It’s just time. It’s just not something that you can just (start) a week before the playoffs say ‘ok we can (win). We’ve got a tough three-game trip coming up and it’s just time,” David West said. “We’ve got to be a little bit more combative, take guys personal space and impose our will. This is not the beginning of the season; things aren’t going to be easy. A Western Conference team comes in here, they’re a playoff team, we got their best shot and that’s what we’ve been getting from everybody.”

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

West finished with 27 points and seven rebounds while the Pacers finished one conversion on their final two possessions away from a tie or win. But West is right and it should come as no surprise that he is the one who said it. There are a few things that Indiana needs to do that go hand-in-hand with becoming mentally tougher.

The Pacers have got to stop looking for help and handouts from the referees. Call it a false sense of entitlement or complacency but Indiana hasn’t had a missed offensive attempt in the paint that hasn’t ended with the player looking to the ref with his hands up in quite some time.

It’s not as bad as that other team that plays in South Florida, but it’s nauseating at minimum.

Not even 48 hours after I write an article praising the Pacers deep, athletic bench the reserves get outscored 34-11. I stand corrected. Apparently things aren’t what they appear just yet, especially with Evan Turner who didn’t score at all and looked like he was in the wrong gym on defense.

To Turner’s defense, Golden State played their game and made the Pacers play catch up. Indiana couldn’t overcome struggles on defense. Indiana traded shots with Golden State trailing by 10 until a 12-2 Pacers’ run tied the game at 96.  Golden State had Indiana on the ropes all night, though.

“They were just breaking us down with ball handling. We’re a team that helps one another. They started attacking the basket, we collapsed and they were just kicking it out. Once a couple threes go down you’re up on your toes and you’re at their mercy and now they pump fake and they’re able to get around you,” Paul George said. George finished with 26 points and 12 rebounds.

George missed a look when the game was tied with less than 20 seconds left giving the Warriors the ball and on the ensuing possession, Golden State executed a play that embodied every struggle defensive-oriented Pacers endured Tuesday night.

“(I was thinking) Get a stop. That would have been the only thing I could have done other than hoping that he (Klay Thompson) missed it. He did a great job,” George Hill said. “(If) you try to stop a guy from getting to the basket and he hits a 17-foot fade away … there is nothing you can do about that.”

With .06 seconds remaining, George missed a three-point attempt that would have given the Pacers a win by inches, almost cementing a split-second of action into all of our minds for a very long time. But split-second moments aren’t what this state entrenched in basketball lure is looking for.

Indiana fans have seen plenty of those.

West is onto something. It’s time for the Pacers to peak over the next 22 games and steam roll into the playoffs full of momentum. Because the time that has passed since their last championship has been much longer than 63,360 minutes and with an interesting off season approaching, the time-window to win an NBA title with arguably the NBA’s best team is much less.

 

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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