So, that happened.
What do we make of it? Nothing. A lot. I’m not sure. Make of it what you want.
By definition, it’s only one loss. The NBA isn’t a running beauty pageant like College Football, and the Pacers didn’t just reveal hairy armpits in the evening gown competition. It will only count as one loss – one expected loss – in their race for the playoffs, so very little damage done in that regard.
Here’s how Ball Don’t Lie’s inimitable Kelly Dwyer addressed the issue in this morning’s Behind the Boxscore.
Perhaps the Pacers got a little full of themselves, and that’s fair. As someone who watched every second of the team’s close home loss to OKC last fall, Indiana may have been expecting a close game just to manifest on its own, and close games against great teams (even if you are a good team, yourself) just don’t happen that way. You have to work toward it, and Indiana did not want to. In a season that stretches from an Indiana Indian Summer to actual summer? It’s bound to happen. Keep calm and carry on.
It’s hard to come up with a game in recent memory where the Pacers were much less competitive. This includes embarrassing losses at Philly and at home to the Lakers in November and December. There may have been a moment or two in the first quarter where Pacer fans might have held out some hope that they’d still be able to pull it together and get back in it, but there probably wasn’t a single second after the Thunder’s initial 16-2 run where it could be reasonably expected. The game looked like this:
And, as Dwyer says, games like this are bound to happen. So, yeah. Keep calm.
Still – I don’t feel good, and I can’t just dismiss this out of hand as “one of those games.” The big problem is that there’s at least as much evidence (if not more) that the way the team played last night is closer to the “real Pacers” than the team that tore through an easy schedule in early February as there is the other way. It remains to be seen which way this team will go.