There’s a calm today before the Game 5 storm hits tomorrow. Today is rest. But tomorrow is only the biggest Pacers game in 6 years and one that, if they can somehow win, will validate not only the past four games in which Indiana has competed at a level few thought they could but the whole season. Perhaps the past few seasons.
Sure, winning Game 5 only to lose Game 6 wouldn’t make a ton of difference to the Pantheon basketball gods living in the NBA cosmos. But for this franchise and these players and their fans, right now, winning one more and extending the joy-joy feelings, even just for another two days, could make a huge difference in how the hoops community feels about this team in the offseason. Play well throughout a series with the #1 seed and take one game that they still almost choked away and there is a little bit of confidence going forward.
But take two, on one the Bulls’ home floor?
That’s buzz-worthy. I’m not sure I know what that really means, but Carles of Hipster Run-off attempts to explain it today for GQ.
If anything, I would say that a buzz team is a team from which we don’t expect greatness during the current playoffs—but shows “great promise for the next 3 seasons and beyond.” Young nucleus of “good kids” + “a few veterans who may or may not have been there before.” A coach who has instilled a genuine “team concept” and defensive/high-octane offense brand of basketball. A franchise whose team has “taken on the identity of the city.” A team that can generate a good stream of memes for NBA bloggers.
I’d say that the Pacers, 76ers and Grizzlies are getting tons of buzz based on their 2011 playoff performances. The buzz team allows post-knowledgeable NBA fans to project visions of greatness for a team of unlikely players who we want to see succeed in the playoffs, not because of a direct emotional commitment to the team, but because buzzing the right team means that you “get” the NBA. You even get to buzz certain players: the ones who are playoffs (Tyler Hansbrough, Marc Gasol, Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner) or the “grizzled veterans who are respected but are ultimately failures who have been rebranded as having ‘adapted to new roles” (Shane Battier, Zach Randolph, Andre Iguodala). You can even talk yourself into Aaron Grey and Spencer Hawes for “having size.” Even though the Knicks flopped and are a mainstream mega-NBA brand, they also represent “the social buzz” element of buzz teams, which is a desire to “send good vibes” to a fallen franchise, or a market that has never experienced success. I can’t tell if I would want people from Oklahoma City to feel like champions, but maybe if Durant played in Portland, that would feel “pretty cool to root for.”
There are more important things for a franchise than being characterized by some silly term made up by a silly man, but being relevant league-wide has it’s benefits. For one, basketball fans without LeaguePass might get to see a Pacers game on national TV, something that has happened rarely — if at all in the past three season. (I’m pretty sure it hasn’t other than NBA TV. At least not for the past two.)
Unfortunately, this victory will almost-certainly have to come against a team with DRose at the helm.
He’s playing, yall, according to KC Johnson of the Chicago Tribune.
Moving on to other business … below is a video about Pacers playoff mainstay Matt Asen. (via Fox 59)
I was out in Indianapolis in late February for a few home games (two losses including the OT heart-breaker that the Pacers lost on a Channing Frye buzzer-beater), staying in the iconic Canterbury Hotel. I was minding me own business in the bar area on my laptop, writing something poorly for this very blog. I started chatting with a gentlemen who had seen some Pacers-related insignia on my screen about the team. It took me a few minutes, but I finally realized how familiar it was. Long-story-slightly-less-long, it was Matt and he was in town for the same games. Pretty chill guy with some good stories. I’ve been meaning to get him on the phone for a Q&A to share some with yall readers, but have yet to do so.
We’ll do this soon enough, hopefully.
Great story, I know.
Better still … Paul George, everybody.