By all accounts the Indiana Pacers are having a great season. They have a great winning record, they are bound for the NBA Playoffs, they are the Central Division Champions and
they are currently ranked third in the NBA Eastern Conference. In many sports this would be the time that a team would begin resting their starters and letting their bench players rack up some experience.
The NBA doesn’t seem to favor a team that plays that way. Earlier this season the NBA fined the San Antonio Spurs $250,000 for resting key players in a game against the Miami Heat. This doesn’t happen in other sports. In the NFL coaches are chastised sometimes for not resting players when it seems unnecessary for them to play.
Recently the Miami Heat has been resting players on the basis of minor injuries. At this point in the season almost any regular starter could probably claim some type of minor injury. This is just an excuse to rest their players and not risk any major injuries before the playoffs. This may seem smart to many. Last season Chris Bosh got injured in the first game of the Eastern Conference Finals and wasn’t able to play for the rest of the playoffs. It’s smart for teams to not put their most valuable players at unnecessary risk.
Others would disagree. There countless stories of underdog teams playing hard to get into their sports post-season and turn that late season success into post-season domination. You hear it all the time. Coaches, players and commentators will say things like, “It’s all about getting hot at the right time.”
This is why the Indiana Pacers have been under heat over their past few games. They dropped two important games and they barely beat a team that doesn’t have the talent of the teams they’ll be facing in the playoffs. A lot of the talking heads on sports radio and television have been questioning if the Pacers even have a shot now to make it past the first round.
Is that really true? Is it true in the NBA? How important are the last games of the season? Do the Pacers need to win these last four games to be in position to do some damage in the playoffs?
The NBA seems to be a little different than other sports when it comes to finishing strong. Look at the NBA Championship teams over the past ten years. In their last five regular season games, four of those teams dropped three of those games and none of them won all five.
It doesn’t appear that finishing strong in todays NBA has any direct effect on how a team preforms in the playoffs. This should be good news for the Indiana Pacers. They don’t have the pressure of winning all of these last four games. It even may allow them to give some extra bench time to some key players who are nursing some minor injuries. David West may like the sound of that since he has made comments that his back is still giving him some issues.
Either way the Indiana Pacers are taking a good solid team into the NBA playoffs and they have proven all season that they have the ability to beat any team that comes their way.