By Advancing to the Second Round, the Pacers Will Finally Be in the National Spotlight

By defeating the Orlando Magic and advancing to the second round of the playoffs, the Indiana Pacers have extended an already impressive season. The young team drastically improved its winning percentage compared to last season and defeated high-profile teams like the Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics and New York Knicks.

The question is, did anybody notice?

According to my research, the Indiana Pacers played a grand total of one game on national television this season. (Side note: I do not consider NBA TV to qualify as national TV. I am talking about games played on ABC, ESPN or TNT. There’s something about having either Kenny and Charles or Magic and Wilbon talking about your first-half performance that feels like validation). The only chance that the country had to watch the Pacers was a 111-94 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on ESPN back on March 14. The Charlotte Bobcats had exactly as many nationally televised games as the Pacers. Yes, the same Charlotte Bobcats that set the record for worst winning percentage in NBA history.

The lack of exposure continued in the playoffs.

In a five-game series with the Magic three of the games aired on NBA TV rather than the big three networks. I understand that without Dwight Howard this series was not exactly a draw, but it is pretty rare in this day and age that the majority of the games in a playoff series are not shown to a large-scale audience. There are probably a number of NBA fans who have yet to see the Pacers play this season, especially considering Game 4 was a Saturday afternoon affair that even plenty of NBA diehards decided to forego in order to at least see some sunlight during this hectic playoff schedule.

To make matters worse, the Pacers ranked 29th in attendance this season, which is a whole other problem altogether.

On the other hand, the Heat, a team everyone presume will handle New York soon and advance to face the Pacers in round two, had more games televised on TNT, ABC, and ESPN than any other team in the league. It is safe to say that every game of their second-round series will be on one of these stations. It is also safe to say a lot of people will be watching, because that tends to happen when the Miami Heat are involved.

So, possibly for the first time this season, there will be a lot of people paying attention to the  Indiana Pacers against the Miami Heat. This young team will finally be getting the attention their play this year deserves. Depending on how they play, they can demand attention for the future.

Even if they don’t find a way to comply with the Fieldhouse crowd’s chant on Tuesday night to “Beat the Heat,” it is hard to believe they will only play one game next season on national television. They have at least made that jump to national relevance regardless of what happens over the next four to seven games.

Topics: 2012 Playoffs, Miami Heat

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  • Avi Friedman

    Correct me if I’m wrong but: if the Bulls lose to the 76ers wouldn’t the Pacers play the winner of the Celtics – Hawks series?

  • Evan

    You’re wrong.

  • Evan

    It’s not like the NFL where the highest seeds play the lowest seeds, etc. — the brackets are set from the get-go.

  • Derek U

    doesn’t anybody understand how a bracket works? I know the Pacers have had a playoff drought, but seriously. learn to sport.

  • poot

    beat the cHeat

    over/under for how many times completely one-sided star-bias officiating changes the outcome of a game the Pacers clearly deserve to win? Currently set at 3.5, but a lot of people are taking the over

  • Chris B.

    poot, that’s my biggest concern about the next series, particularly with Roy Hibbert. Conrad Brunner wrote a pretty good article earlier this year about how Hibbert has improved his interior defense and avoided foul trouble this year by learning to go straight up and not bring his arms down. We saw that countless times against the Magic, and even when there was body contact, Roy rarely got whistled for a foul. But if it’s Lebron instead of Big Baby or Ryan Anderson, I have a feeling that Roy will start getting fouls called on him even if he uses the same sound fundamentals that he used in this series.

  • Ronal Eugene is Right!!

    Haven’t the playoff crowds been good enough to stop the constant attendance BS? If there are problems next year you’ll have a legitimate argument, but it’s tired at this point. 3 home games, 3 sellouts that were 99% Pacers fans and the crowds were loud. Sure there were a few open seats at each game, but you’ll have that when there are 40 scalpers circling the arena harassing every person in a block radius before every game. The secondary ticket market is a problem in a lot of cities and it’s hardly the fans fault this problem exists. The only thing that I could say the Pacers could do better to get fans in the seats at this point would be to close down Legends for the playoffs. That’s the only section that was consistently empty during these last 3 games so if no one is willing to pay whatever crazy price it costs to get in there maybe they should just shut it down and open that section up to anyone for normal club level pricing.

  • Chris D.

    The TV exposure thing has bothered me for a while. I could see a year or two of punishment for the brawl, but it has been getting ridiculous. The game we got this year was by luck when the NBA dropped another game. Am I wrong in saying that the league would benefit by promoting all teams to some extent? The NBA has never seemed like a coherent operation to me. When I see the NFL, I see league with a series of subsidiary franchises called teams. They are all divisions of the same company. The NBA seems like a free-for-all among the owners and players. The Pacers have a been a solid NBA franchise for over a decade. A winning home record of 17 years running. We’re at least as interesting to watch as the Sixers, Nuggets, Jazz, or Hawks. The Knicks are only fun to watch when Lin is on the floor. Otherwise, you have to enjoy watching Melo run another franchise into the ground. I would say the Pacers are a top ten team in the league for watching. Sure, we don’t have a perpetual dunk machine like Black Griffin, but he’s one of a kind.

  • poot

    beat the cHeat

  • 7IHd

    I could not have been more pissed that I was only able to see 2 of the first round games. It’s tough with displaced fan syndrome. I only got to watch the Pacers play the Celts (and that one 76ers game), and had to follow the gamecasts otherwise.

  • Jeff

    I’m surprised that our re-match with the Bulls wasn’t televised this season after we showed we could hang with them in the last playoff series. We won that game too, and Derrick Rose complained about us cheering, we could have gotten some nice national exposure.

    But, without a recognizable star we will always lose out to Bulls, Heat, Knicks, Celtics when it comes to national attention for games featured in the Eastern time zone, they are large market teams that draw in a larger audience.

    I agree a strong showing against the Heat will go a long way towards next years schedule, especially if we can get a player like Paul George to spark and create some excitement. Next year will be a full season, the shortened season also had a lot to do with us getting snubbed.

  • poot

    7IHd –>

    gamecast is awful, i feel sorry for you. have you ever tried using google?
    if you search for “nba streaming” or something along those lines you should get more results than you know what to do with (lshunter.tv, atdhe.eu, etc…)
    all of these sites have multiple links to live streams of the game you want to watch. in most cases English. If you are willing to search around, you can find some streaming about 480p, just as good if not better than your TV’s SD stream would have been.

    so seriously, over/under for # of games the completely one-sided star-bias officiating changes the outcome?
    there will be at least 1, you can bet on that. so if it was 1.5, would you take the over or under?

  • poot

    ps. beat the cHeat

  • Zach Winningham

    On the bright side, our game 5 closeout of the Magic WAS featured after the third commercial break on SportsCenter that night. Right after all the meaningless early-season baseball games like LAA vs Minnesota (worst record in baseball) and Cubs v Braves.

    UNREAL!

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