The last month and a half has been extremely rough for the Pacers — and their fans. But that doesn’t mean the games aren’t still exciting to watch as the playoffs grow extremely near.
So last Friday night I headed downtown Indianapolis to catch the game and see what the locals were thinking about the team. I originally headed downtown but the collection of people in town for the World’s largest Firefighter Convention made it quite difficult to find a bar flush with fans. This happened last time, too. An influx of tourists makes it hard to find Pacers fans watching the game downtown. I suppose that’s a great “problem” for the city, and keep up the great work firefighters of America!
My next stop was the outskirts of downtown and found a bar on Indiana Avenue that locals frequent every weekend. It was packed with Pacers fans intently watching the game. I found a seat at the bar, may have ordered a beverage or two and struck up a conversation with a few of the fans. At halftime I found a table of knowledgable fans, including Ben Phillippe, the fan who started the “Pacers New Look Campaign” — check out the video of his proposed new logo and jerseys that was featured on ESPN.com.
Below is exactly what Pacers fans are thinking at this moment in time.
I present to you the pulse of Pacer Nation.
Indiana Pacers vs. Miami Heat on Friday night, April 11, 2014. The Heat would go on to win 98-86.
The Bourbon Street Distillery, on the west side of Downtown Indianapolis between Monument Circle and the Canal District. If you like Po’ Boy sandwiches, this is the place for you. Cannot be beat for the price.
3.5/5 for the Pacers.
The first half was a 4/5 or even higher but the second half drained the energy out of the bar a bit as the Heat blew out the Pacers; which is to be expected. The bar was packed, and in the first half a lot of cheering was going on — something everyone loves when you’re watching the hometown team play at a bar.
REACTION TO FRANK VOGEL RESTING STARTERS vs. MILWAUKEE
I asked all of the people I talked to what they thought about Vogel’s “resting” of the Starters in Milwaukee a couple games back. The move looks genius now, as the backups won.
“Fantastic decision,” said Wes, who has been a Pacers fan as long as he can remember. “Actually I was hoping that they’d do that sporadically throughout the season, but obviously they didn’t. They ran our guys pretty hard. So I was glad to see it, and it worked out.”
Indeed it did. Another fan, Manuel, agreed. “Very smart,” he said. “I think it helped build confidence with the depth players and that will be big in the playoffs. Plus, the starters were just not bringing it anyway.”
Ben, creator of the “Pacers New Look Campaign,” wasn’t as sure. He thought the whole discussion was overblown.
“I was very indifferent about it,” he said. “I wasn’t up in arms like everyone else. I thought, maybe they do need a rest … I think it was the right decision but I thought, people need to relax.”
The decision did get an awful lot of press for it being a game against the lowly Milwaukee Bucks.
Valid points all around.
CAN THE PACERS PUT THIS TOUGH STRETCH BEHIND THEM AND MAKE THE FINALS?
Wes summed up what most of Pacer Nation must be thinking as he said, “Ummm. I remain hopeful and positive.” Pacers fans know how talented this team is, but it’s just hard to be extremely confident heading into the playoffs when you factor in the last month and a half.
Ben said, “Who knows what can happen, injuries and everything else. I think they can, I don’t think there’s any other team in the East that can beat them other than the Heat but who knows.”
I think a lot of Pacers fans feel that way.
Manuel thought, “I’m not sure. They’re so up and down but, hey, once you get in the playoffs anything can happen. So, yeah, I think they can. I mean, if they can find their offense again and everything.”
If being the key word.
DESCRIBE THE PACERS’ RECENT PLAY IN ONE WORD
“Lethargic,” said Wes. Yeah that about sums it up.
“Sh***y,” said Manuel. I’ll let you fill in the blank.
“Distracted,” said Ben. This is actually a pretty great way to look at the Pacers’ current slide. Maybe they are just waiting for the playoffs.
For the sake of all Pacers fans, lets hope that’s the case.
SO … WHAT’S THE PULSE?
The bar was filled with passionate fans but some left before the game ended — can you blame them?
Overall the pulse of Pacer Nation was excited and still confident that the Pacers will turn it around.
I think the game in Milwaukee and Vogel’s decision to play the backups all game energized both the team and the fan base. There were intelligent fans out watching the game, and their loyalty could not be questioned.
I can confidently conclude that Pacer Nation is remaining loyal and still feverishly following the games; despite the poor play over the last month and a half. It’s pretty cool to see a city rally around a team even as it struggles so mightily. Bourbon Street Distillery was impressive, and I recommend it to any fan that wants to watch a Pacers game with other passionate fans. Very fun. I can only imagine what the Pulse of Pacer Nation will be like at local bars once the playoffs start!
Until next time, Cheers!