Ok Pacers fans, I think we need to do three things:
Hold on. Relax. Stop Whining.
Better already, right?
Here’s the reality check lots of us need. This Pacers squad has spoiled us. They started spoiling us in the playoffs when they did better than they should have until Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals when Miami kicked them in the teeth. That game demonstrated the gulf between the two squads was far greater than we wanted to believe.
They spoiled us much more in the fall. They began the regular season with impressive urgency and success. They believed that they needed home court advantage in the playoffs and took the regular season more seriously than anybody else in the East. That meant their record was fattened on cupcakes and they were very competitive against the best teams in the league too.
Then Paul George took The Leap! and looked like one of the best players in the world. Between his early season prominence and the Pacers record, MVP talk started up. So did the notion that the Pacers should be a title favorite this year. Everyone should remember how silly that notion seemed in the summer when the Bulls, Knicks, Nets and Heat were all in that conversation.
In September, how many of you would have bet money that the Pacers would own the best record in the East? Stop lying. It was me, Jeff McClure and about 12 other diehards. Everyone else got spoiled by the hot start, the national buzz, everyone else’s injuries and how much we like this team.
That’s an underrated factor in all this. Pacer fans finally warmed up to this group after too much hesitation and now we feel let down because this awesome collection of guys might not be the ’85 Lakers after all. Whoops. I mean, ’86 Celtics. I forgot where I live for a moment there. My bad.
All I’m asking is that we stop shouting ICEBERG!! long enough to recognize that this team is way ahead of schedule. The Pacers are also one of the 5 best bets to hoist the Larry O’Brien in June. (I’ll write about how silly NBA trophy names are soon. Easy, awesome fixes.)
For now, let’s enjoy all 82. This is a team that works hard on D, shares the ball on O (sometimes to a fault) and is on course to do legitimately special things. As Pacers fans, we should help them try to spoil us a little more.
– Franklin Oliver