The Many Faces of Indiana Pacers Misery


The Pacers have lost five of their past six games, losing by 11, 12, 13, 14, and 26 points, respectively. Maybe the most disappointing fact of last night’s loss to the Spurs is that they didn’t lose by 15, since it would have been so much more nice and tidy if they could just keep losing each game by one more point than their last loss. They could at least become a Jeopardy! question if they kept that up the rest of the year.

Really, neato factoids of this ilk seem to be about all the Pacers have to look forward to at this point. Because the team is kneedeep in melancholy. David West is throwing around the world “downtrodden” while Roy Hibbert is resorting to snark and jokes when asked to explain the team’s problems.

This is all they have now. The whole team is in a funk and nobody seems to know why. They are just as perplexed as all the Pacers’ writers and fans are. Seriously, how does a turn go from being so dominant to being so dismal?

You want to know how bad has it gotten for the Pacers: Roy Hibbert can’t even clothe himself properly anymore.

“We’ve been in a downward spiral and we’ve been splintering a little bit,” Roy Hibbert said as he worked on a button his shirt sleeve. “I don’t know. I can’t even get this button on, to tell you the truth.”

We can continue to try to analyze #TheStruggle — and, don’t worry, we will — but there is probably nothing that can sum it up better than the looks we saw on the players’ faces last night when Fox Sports Indiana panned across the bench.

Which brings us to everyone’s favorite game: Who Wore It Best — Pacers Misery Face Edition.

Let’s break it down to find a winner.

Paul George

PG

Paul George is a man contemplating existence. He seems to be, at the same time, wondering why his basketball team is so bad and why nation states continue to go to war? Are these phenomenas related? Is an open midrange jumpshot better than a semi-contested corner three? Where is Syria? Does Nike make depleted uranium sneakers? Would Phil Jackson want me to read Nietzsche or Vonnegut?

Lance Stephenson & Evan Turner

Lance

Here we have Lance Stephenson staring at somebody like, “I know that lamp didn’t break itself and how many times did I tell you not to play ball in the house.”

Evan Turner is all, “La la la la la, I can’t hear you, sorry, what was that, oh excuse me, no no no don’t worry I’ll hit you up later but actually I have to go pick my dog up at the airport.”

Roy Hibbert & Luis Scola

Roy

Roy Hibbert huffs ether.

Luis Scola wonders what his life would be like if he had actually been able to play with his buddy Manu Ginobli on the Spurs after they drafted him. How many rings would he have? Would Cristina Fernández de Kirchner invite him to fancy galas? Would the Argentine peso have fallen so far? Could he have helped ease tensions over Malvinas sovereignty?

David West & George Hill

In an affliction that strikes one in 23 million men each year, George Hill just spontaneously forgot how to read.

David West is rethinking his decision to invite his girlfriend over to Thanksgiving at his grandma’s house. They haven’t even met yet. He really thinks his family is going to love her and he’s excited for them all to meet, but there might just be too much pressure on the holiday.

Frank Vogel

Vogel

This image of the coach is actually from the Pacers’ lose to the Cavaliers on Sunday, but it seems to be the most fitting visual representation of what it is now like to watch this team play offense.

That’s my pick anyway: Frank Vogel.

Who you got?

Tags: Indiana Pacers

  • poot

    What happened to the Pacers? A story of Road Woes…

    How does one make sense of the Pacers’ recent struggles? I suppose the easy way is to say “it’s because DG was traded” or “ET is selfish” or “Lance is out of control” or “PG is getting a big head.” That’s what ESPN analysts are paid the big bucks to do: surface analysis. Why dig deeper when the answer is so obvious? Well, ESPN, you dig deeper for the same reason you don’t just say “it’s because my stomach hurts” when you feel sick. You dig deeper to find out if it is because of something you ate, a virus you caught, maybe you have a disease that is no longer dormant. Finding out the source is the only path towards a cure. Or you can just say, “the stomach sucks, it’s not as strong as we thought. We should just try to forget about it.” The Pacers don’t suck, and they need to think about their recent play. To do this they must understand why they have been struggling since road game #1, Oct. 30 in New Orleans.

    The Pacers started their 41 road games with a win. They beat a team many thought would make the playoffs. Everything is good so far. Right? Well the Pacers trailed for over half of this game. They managed to hang around just long enough to snatch a win away. Never leading by double digits. No command of the game. Just a few fortunate bounces. Anyone convinced of a legit win here immediately had to question themselves the next game in Detroit, where the Pacers led all game long, at one point by 19, only to avoid a comeback in the final seconds. This start did not bode well for the Pacers, and I call their first 5 games:

    “Dickin around” – Whether trailing all game against the Pelicans only to sneak a win away, or leading the Pistons all game only to nearly blow it, the wins were not convincing. A close game in Brooklyn, one where the Nets had the lead for a good portion and nearly stole it at the end, did not add confidence. The next game, in Chicago, cemented the facts: the Pacers were dickin around. A near Wire-to-wire loss, trailing by 30+, this was an old fashion butt kicking. An embarrassment. The only possible salvation? Repaying the favor in New York. Instead, the Pacers trailed for the majority of the game, only to sneak into OT on a questionable call and win in the final seconds. Pelicans, Pistons, Nets and Knicks – these are the teams Indiana beat. Pacers fans, how are you feeling?

    “Defense wins championships” – maybe it was playing in Boston. Doing it for Larry? Or lucky to be playing a tanking favorite? Whatever it was, Indiana suddenly remembered Defense matters. After trailing for over half the game, the Pacers cranked up the defense and finished in style. Looking good guys! Then they took it to Charlotte and won Wire-to-wire. Though close until the 4th, that’s when the Pacers turned on the D again and blew them out. The Clippers were red hot but a trip to LA saw Indy lead nearly Wire-to-wire and stave off their comeback efforts. A trip up to West’s #1 team Portland saw Indy lead over 75% of the game, though never by double digits, only to lose in the final minutes. You could call this a quality loss. Pacers then trailed Utah for over half the game, at times by double digits, until finally clamping on the D and finishing them for good. They built upon this with a trip to San Antonio, where they led most of the game and avoided a furious comeback to get another quality win. This stretch of basketball made us forget about the “dickin around” phase and remember the Pacers of the 2013 postseason. But was it just a mirage?

    “To play with the best…” – Indiana’s next game was in OKC. After winning in LA, SA, and a great effort in POR, it seemed OKC was going to be in for a fight. Instead, Indy got a Wire-to-wire Butt kicking, trailing by 28 and rolling over. Then came a huge game in Miami, 8 days after beating them in Indy. Leading nearly all game, at one point by 15, the Pacers blew it in the final seconds. The full spectrum of demoralization: playing the best opponent from each conference, only to get blown out completely by one, and have a devastating collapse against the other. Is there any recovery from this?

    “Merry Christmas Brookyln” – if only every game could be played during Christmas in New York. Playing on the 23rd, the Pacers looked like they were on vacation- in a good way! Led nearly all game, once by 23, really blowing it open at the end, with defense! Though not the best opponent, a real quality win relative to how they played there earlier in the year. Then it happened…

    “2014. End of the world.” – New Year’s day, 2014. If I told you that in the Pacers first 24 games of 2014, they would only beat one quality team on the road, would you believe me? Judging how the season started, you might, but the stretch of quality wins prior to OKC did give a glimmer of hope. This was shut down as the season got progressively worse. Before the ET trade. Before signing Bynum. Before Lance pushed for AllStar status. Before PG’s paternity issues. The Pacers started it off with a loss in Toronto. After trailing over half the game, never leading by double digits, yet staying close enough to actually take the lead with 7 minutes to go, the Pacers seemed to quit. An embarrassing loss, followed up with a humiliating win in Cleveland. Pacers led the Cavs nearly all game, only to have to avoid a comeback with a win in the finals seconds. If this didn’t make you question the Pacers’ focus, the next game in Atlanta would: a Wire-to-wire loss. Trailing by 20, an old fashion Butt Kicking to a team without its best player. Things are looking bleak, and a win in Golden State would really help. Pacers got up for this game: nearly a Wire-to-wire win, but not in the “getting better towards the end” that the Pacers usually do, this time they nearly blew it at the end after leading by 20. This was the one quality team I referred to the Pacers beating. Here’s how the rest played out:

    L @Phoenix – Wire-to-wire Butt Kicking, trailed by 25, then gave up.

    W @Sacramento (OT) – Trailed nearly all game, by 16 at one point, only to sneak into OT and steal a win.

    L @Denver – Wire-to-wire Butt Kicking, trailed by 19, then gave up.

    W @Lakers – Wire-to-wire win. Got better as the game went on for a quality win against a shit opponent. Well done Pacers (half sarcastic)

    W @Atlanta – after leading nearly all game, once by 16, avoided a comeback to sneak out a win. Crafty!

    L @Orlando – embarrassing. Led most of the game, once by 17, and lost at the end. The “quit” in the Pacers trumped the “tank” in the Magic.

    L @Minnesota – Wire-to-wire Butt Kicking, trailed by 20, then gave up.

    W @Milwaukee – Wire-to-wire win, including a 22 point lead. Yet, nearly gave this one away at the end.

    W @Boston – Led most of the game, led by 10, but Boston caught up and nearly won in the final seconds.

    L @Charlotte – Wire-to-wire Butt Kicking, trailed by 22, then gave up.

    L @Houston – nearly a Wire-to-wire Butt Kicking, trailed by 32, then gave up.

    L @Dallas – nearly a Wire-to-wire loss. Trailed by 17. Tried not to give up, but once you get into a pattern, there is only so much you can do…

    W @Philadelphia – Wire-to-wire win, including a 16 point lead. Yet, again, nearly gave this one away at the end.

    W @Detroit (OT) – Trailed nearly all game, by 24 at one point, only to clamp on the defense to get OT and steal a win. Maybe we are getting our Mojo back???

    L @New York – Nope. Nearly a Wire-to-wire loss. Trailed by 16. Thanks a lot Phil Jackson!

    L @Memphis – Wire-to-wire Butt Kicking, trailed by 15, then gave up.

    L @Chicago – After a good start, got a solid Butt Kicking, trailed by 13, then gave up.

    L @Washington – Wire-to-wire Butt Kicking, trailed by 20, then gave up

    L @Cleveland – Wire-to-wire Butt Kicking, trailed by 19, then gave up.

    And here we are today. What is there to make of all this? The Pacers started poorly yet managed to sneak out wins. They got better at clamping down on defense, and got some solid wins after that. Then they played some good teams and realized that’s not enough against the best. This demoralized the team and they have basically underperformed against shit teams and gotten their asses kicked by good teams ever since.

    Do we expect this to change? No. We should not. With games left @Toronto, @Milwaukee, @Miami and @Orlando, how do you think they will go? Loss to Toronto, likely a butt kicking. Underwhelming win in Milwaukee? Blown out in Miami? Epic collapse in Orlando? Am I sounding unreasonable here? A title favorite should look at these games as 3 sure Wins and a toss-up in Miami. But the Pacers are no title favorites without home court. They stink on the road, and this is where their woes occur. Home game is fine, even when getting blown out by San Antonio, it’s all good in Indy. They could literally win every home game in the playoffs… but that won’t be enough.

    Indiana wins with a bad boy toughness. When they play with energy on D and control the paint, they can win easily. But this does not happen much on the road. Is it mental? It is the lack of a game plan? Or are they tired? I think a combination. West mainly operates at 18ft a la KG. West should be posting up every other play. Hibbert should quit bitching and not call for the ball unless he has post position. No Roy, we will not run plays for you when you are out at 16 feet. And for the love of God, stop wimping out. Chicago was setting mean ass moving screens and wild over the backs in their last win against Indy. How do you handle this? By bitching to the refs? NO. You hit them harder. If only they played the Miami game like every game. Stop backing down. Back your opponent down. The cure may come in some rest time for the guys. This would elevate the bench’s confidence since they are at an all time low, and guess what- it’s not their fault!

    Pacers are an improved team year-over-year since 2010. However this is not their year, they are just not ready. The good news is that the team is so young! This doesn’t have to be their year! The Heat will be so much worse next year, as will the Nets and Knicks. If you’re worrying about the Raptors, just look at their cap situation. Bulls will always be an ever increasing question mark as long as they have Rose taking up the majority of their cap space. Going all in this year was premature, but a calculated move given Lance’s likely departure. However Indiana should still compete this year, give us a few nice wins in the ECF, and hope for next year. They have to figure out this road thing though, and that’s still a ways away…