A win is a win is a win, but this game was basically nonsense. The Pacers, coming in as the co-holder of the NBA’s best record at 11-1, played entitled basketball all night. Their energy level on the defensive end and their commitment to executing on the other side were reminiscent of a team that expected to win just by showing up.
It’s honestly hard to blame them. Here they are, a team smacking around nearly all comers that’s on the second night of a Friday/Saturday back to back in a home matchup with an injury-riddled opponent that features a roster of nobodies. All month, they’ve been playing balls-out defense and they are about to leave their families during Thanksgiving week to head west for a grueling road trip. (EDIT: This isn’t true. I can’t read a calendar. They don’t leave until, probably, November 30.)
I understand where the complacency may have stemmed from.
And despite the 42 minutes of lackluster focus, the team did have the gumption to lock it down halfway through the fourth quarter and put this one away. So no harm done.
What you worry about, however — particularly in an Eastern Conference that is looking worse by the day — is that the team starts doing this often. The Wallace/Wallace/Rip/Billups/Tayshaun Pistons teams that made the Eastern Conference Finals every year started to fall into that trap. Their defense was so stellar that they began to play entitled ball, thinking that they could just flip the proverbial switch and hold the opponent scoreless for a stretch whenever they wanted.
Now, I don’t think this will become a problem. And if you look at Roy Hibbert’s line — not to mention the complete barricade he formed in front of the hoop during the game’s final two minutes — you can see that this wasn’t a complete mail-in game. Plus, Michael Carter Williams, especially, wasn’t just exploiting weak effort; this kid balled out tonight. But giving up 23 offensive rebounds and countless layups to a depleted Philly team is not the makings of championship basketball.
Let’s not get carried away. One 8-point Saturday night win that should have been a 20-point laugher isn’t the end of the world. The Pacers are now 12-1 after all.
Still, I can think of better ways to spend my Saturday night then watching what was essentially a televised scrimmage in which the clearly-more-talented side really tried for about six minutes.
|David West, PF 31 MIN | 6-11 FG | 5-5 FT | 11 REB | 6 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 17 PTS | +24Fantastic line and generally played a bit grittier than most.|
|Paul George, SF 37 MIN | 6-13 FG | 5-7 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 19 PTS | +21Meh.|
|Roy Hibbert, C 33 MIN | 7-12 FG | 13-16 FT | 13 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 6 BLK | 2 TO | 27 PTS | +19Dominant late, and earned all his points. 13 rebounds is nice, but with the number of shots the Sixers missed, he really should have had closer to 20.|
|George Hill, PG 36 MIN | 4-10 FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 11 PTS | +17Sick dunk and locked down late, but lots of complacency.|
|Lance Stephenson, SG 37 MIN | 8-11 FG | 2-3 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 6 TO | 18 PTS | -1Played well, I guess. Lots of layups.|
|Luis Scola, PF 21 MIN | 0-4 FG | 3-4 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 3 PTS | -11Yuck.|
|Chris Copeland, SF 11 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | -16Not sure he should be getting Ian’s minutes again.|
|Solomon Hill, SF 7 MIN | 0-1 FG | 1-1 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 1 PTS | +4Sure.|
|C.J. Watson, PG 12 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 4 PTS | -9Whatever.|
|Orlando Johnson, SG 15 MIN | 1-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | -8Cool.|
Topics: Game Recap