(42-24, 2nd Central Division, 3rd Seed Eastern Conference)
Part of me thought this about when I would be writing this recap. But then part of me thought why can’t I be writing this after an Eastern Conference Finals appearance. That’s how confident I was about the Indiana Pacers this season. They gave Miami all they could handle in those first few games, and until Dwayne Wade decided to show up, who knows what could have happened? But of course, that’s the dreaded what if and hypothetical thinking. There’s no doubt this Pacers team accomplished a lot and deserves all the credit we can give them.
Looking back over the season, it was a little bit of a roller coaster at times. But for the most part, this team competed hard and beat the teams they were supposed to beat. I’ve stated that teams of the past didn’t do that. Even finishing above .500 is something to be said for the Pacers. Then breaking into the top half of the Eastern Conference is a feather in the cap. Also beating some of the top tier teams in the regular season could be something to be said.
Some of those wins included, beating the Chicago Bulls at home early in January, beating Los Angeles Lakers for a second time at LA, beating defending champs Dallas Mavericks at their place, and beating Oklahoma City at home and withstanding a furious rally by the Thunder in that one.
You can look the opposite way and want to take back some losses as well. There’s that early season loss to the Sacramento Kings, where the Pacers hit that type of fourth quarter collapse you hate to see. A couple of blowout losses to the Miami Heat didn’t look so good in the resume as well. There was the five game losing streak in February, but was followed by a six game winning streak.
Also, the month of April was very kind to this team as they made a switch at point guard due to Darren Collison injuring himself, and finished the month with a 12-3 record, which was the best or right there as the best that month. That’s the way you want to finish up the season and assure yourself of a great playoff position.
The playoffs come and their first round opponent is the Orlando Magic, who were without Dwight Howard. After a first game loss in that series, the Pacers rattled off four straight wins, three of win were over double figures. The Pacers took advantage of the Magic without Dwight Howard as Roy Hibbert had one of his best games as a Pacer in the close out game.
Then comes the dreaded Miami Heat. Now some of the ESPN “experts” were saying Heat in four, Heat in five, and some were kind enough to say Heat in seven. But it didn’t sound like the national media gave this Pacers team much of a shot. I guess they didn’t see that the Pacers played the Miami Heat very well in the last two regular season meetings. Losing one game by a fluke Dwayne Wade shot, and winning the last meeting by 15. So I was bold and took the Pacers in six games. I was almost right.
The Pacers lost the first game of this series, but then took the next two games. Game three was actually a rout by the Pacers as they beat the Heat by 19 points, and that was Dwayne Wade’s worst playoff performance. Perhaps it was just a wake up call to him as he would perform excellent in the next three games all Heat wins.
Game six, the close out game, was perhaps one of his best games as a Heat player finishing up with 41 points and 10 rebounds. But more importantly, he was seemingly making every shot he took. He was able to get into the lane and just bank it in.
But still a valiant Pacers effort, and just a change in that fourth game, and the Pacers win, and who knows if we’re still talking Heat Pacers. There are some questions to answer for next year, like does George Hill get resigned and how much do you pay Roy Hibbert? How about what can Paul George do to improve as he seemed to disappear after the All-Star Break? As I recap more of the Pacers in the next coming weeks, I’ll try to answer those questions. Look for break downs of position by position next week as well for the Indiana Pacers.
Thanks so much to the Indiana Pacers for their effort this year, and already looking forward to the Blue and Gold attack next season.