This looks and feels very familiar to me. I’ve been here before. The Pacers are coming off of a devastating Conference Finals lost. Same core, young budding star and the belief that they can win it all. Where have I seen this before?
Oh, I remember now. Reggie Miller and company. They lost to Michael Jordan’s Bulls in the 1998 Conference Finals. How did they bounce back? By losing to New York in the Conference Finals the following season, To their credit, they did get over that hump and finally made it to the Finals in 2000. There they lost to Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal’s Lakers. Their first in what will later become a three-peat.
The Jermaine O’Neal led Pacers did it as well. In 2004 they lost in the Conference Finals to the Detroit Pistons. In 2005, same two team, same results. The following season, 2006, the year that I believed, I really believed, that the Pacers were going to win the championship…The Brawl. Need I say more? Possibly the best Pacer team ever, poof, up in smoke. Gone. Everybody suspended, D-Leaguers on the court.
I cried. Seriously.
That brings us to Paul George’s Indiana Pacers. 2013 Conference Finals lost against the Miami Heat. What’s going to happen next? To be honest with you, I can live with a repeat. I’m fine if they lose to Miami again in the Conference Finals. I’d be content with that. This coming season the Eastern Conference will be more competitive than it’s been in years. But Indiana deserves a break sooner or later. I mean, this is Indiana! Basketball is like a religion here.
I would like to go to Indianapolis for a parade. I want some Pacers championship gear, a fitted cap of course. It probably won’t happen this year but I do think we have one thing in our favor. You have no idea what Paul George is going to be this time next year. Hibbert either.
Time to raise the roof because the ceiling is high (that sounded better in my head). Larry Bird is up to old tricks again. While everyone else was asleep he was building a contender.
Question: Should Indiana trade Granger?
MY Answer: No. According to reports, Granger is perfectly willing to let George and Hibbert have the ball and he’ll “score within the offense”. “Kick-outs, transition, mid-range jumpers”. When the game is on the line he “knows that ball is going to be in George’s hands” and he’ll “just spot up and be ready if Paul (George) has to kick it out”. Granger is happy that he’s “finally be playing for a championship contender”. He’s a great bargaining chip as his contract is expiring next off-season, but he can shoot as well as ANY other 3-point specialist in the league. If the George and Hibbert attract double teams, it won’t from Granger’s man. I think he’ll work with them on a new contract. He knows he’s not going to get anymore big money elsewhere either.
Question: Is Paul George a real superstar?
MY Answer: Not yet but I see no reason why he can’t be one. He’s still young, he’s mature, focused. Just a matter of time.
Question: Do the Pacers need a traditional PG?
MY Answer: No, a traditional PG would just limit George’s touches. Imagine Miami had Chris Paul for instance. Would Lebron be as effective? No. He’s the playmaker, they don’t need CP3. Same case in Indiana. As long as Hill can knock down threes, it’s good.
Question: What do I consider the biggest factors in the Pacers taking that next step?
MY Answer: The development of George, Hibbert and (drumroll please) Lance Stephenson. I call him X-Factor. He’s physically gifted and a fierce competitor. He’s also turnover pron has no conscience. He made big stride last season and let’s hope that continues.