As the Pacers called a timeout at the 6:22 mark of the first quarter, they were trailing 18-17. Quick math projected the game to be in the 140’s. This isn’t uncommon. The NBA is a game of runs, so looking at any six minute stretch can make for some funky forecasts -most of which have little or no resemblance to the final results.
Still, for a fleeting moment there, I had hope. Now, I don’t want 153-145 games on a nightly basis, but every once in a while – usually when the season’s about at the three quarter mark – I get the urge for something wildly different.
Instead, it was the usual. A 15-2 Maverick run early in the second put Dallas in front for good, and the rest of the evening spent with the better team (Dallas) keeping the lesser team (Indiana) at arms length.
Even the 4th quarter dramatics were predictable. The guest stars made a run that put the hometown boys in mortal peril. As Darren Collison drained a three, the canned music swelled, the lead was down to three, and…act break.
Then, after hearing from some of our fine sponsors, the action re-started, the hometown heroes (in the person of Jason Terry) executed their usual derring-do, and the world was safe for democracy in time for the final commercial break.
And that’s all great – and very comforting – provided you’re the hometown heroes. When you’re the foil, it just gets tired.
Anything to Learn?
The Pacers were competitive without ever really, really threatening a better team on the road. That’s better than what they did Wednesday night in Oklahoma City, but how much of it was them and how much was the opponent is difficult to tell.
The Thunder had lost three straight and were looking to get healthy. They didn’t expect to show up and get handed the win, they came looking for the win and blew the Pacers’ doors off from the opening tip. Dallas, on the other hand, had won seven straight and 18 of their last 20. Their entire presence exuded, “We got this.”
So, the game probably teaches us (or at least me) nothing foundational about either team that we didn’t already know. There were a couple of interesting side points.
- I’ve gotten back into listening to Mark Boyle and Bobby “Slick” Leonard call the game on the radio, while I watch the broadcast. The Pacer TV crew is awfully good, but Mark & Slick are the best in the business. Plus, I grew up listening to radio broadcasts, so it actually helps me grasp the game better. In any case, the big nugget that I’ve taken away from this is that Slick does not have a great deal of use for Darren Collison. Earlier this week, he flatly said, “He’s not a point guard. He just wants to score.” From almost the start of preseason, Slick has been harshly critical of Collison’s defense. You’d prefer a little different view from a franchise icon towards what is hoped to be a franchise foundation piece.
- Dallas has the third best record in the league at 45-16, but neither Slick Leonard nor (former Pacer and Mav) Brad Davis are fully comfortable with them as serious championship contenders. Neither believe that Rick Carlisle’s Mavs have the defensive toughness they feel necessary to winning it all. (At least, that’s how Slick described his conversation with Brad Davis – who played for Slick and the Pacers in 1979.) I don’t have an opinion one way or the other.
- Lance Stephenson definitely has some talent. He’s in horrible shape – getting winded after just a few trips up the floor – but offensively, he can pretty much go where he wants. There’s still too much wasted motion in his game, but to be honest, he looks as much like a point guard as either Darren Collison or A.J. Price. He had 6 assists in 12 minutes last night. All that’s great, but he’s also one more piece that I can’t figure out how he fits. I tweeted to Mike Wells that I thought it was odd that they were working him in during a playoff run, and he responded, “I thought that was very odd, considering they’re trying to give away, I mean hold onto, the 8th spot.” If I thought he was more of a shooting guard, I’d think they were heading towards moving him in front of Brandon Rush or Dahntay Jones, but they definitely seem to view him as primarily a point guard. So, who gets squeezed?
Tags: Game Recap