NBA OFF-SEASON PREVIEW: INDIANA PACERS
“Bartender, pour me another”
BLOGHEADS: We give you our final team preview – saving not the best, but the most painfully entertaining, for last. To celebrate that fact, KC & I decided that if we were to write a season preview on the Indiana Pacers, we must, of course, do so while intoxicated. And if we expected any of you to actually read this, you must likewise be on our level.
So since we’re now prepared to drink, let’s make a game of it! Settle in for a long’un. Ladies and gents, without further adieu … our Indiana Pacers Drinking Game.
The rules are simple: grab a bottle or two (honestly? you may need more than two) of your favorite drink. Whenever any of the following is mentioned in this article, you must take a sip, or a chug, or a shot, or Ice a bro (what-have-you):
1. Any mention of a player of Caucasian descent
2. Any mention of a player with legal trouble
3. Any mention of Larry Bird
4. Any reference to “rebuilding”
5. Any reference to “potential”
6. Any mention of “lottery”
The Pacers are a team in-flux, stuck somewhere between rebuilding (DRINK!) and Chernobyl. Most of the issues came about long before Larry Bird (DRINK!) took the reins to the team’s front office. The Malice at the Palace is now one of the darkest and most pathetic moments in NBA history. All lines were indubitably crossed – professional, moral and legal (DRINK!). The Artest-era left traces of arsenic in the mouths of everyone: fans, coaches, front office, David Stern, kindergartners in Bargersville, your 98-year-old grandmother … literally, everyone. The Hoosier State’s only solution was to ship-out the All-Stars, dismantle a 60-win team and commence the rebuilding (DRINK!) process.
Only thing is, they weren’t truly committed to the rebuilding process (DRINK! See? Aren’t we having fun?!). They traded for a few decent players who had a lot of years and a lot of money left on their contracts. You know, guys the likes of Mike Dunleavy Jr. and Troy Murphy (DRINK! Aaaand DRINK!). What Bird (DRINK!) never realized is, well, if you’re going to rebuild, then tanking, purging your roster and starting from scratch is a (the) smarter solution. NOT, as demonstrated, keeping the mediocre guys around, hovering somewhere between 35 and 40 wins and ending up at the ass-end of the draft lottery (DRINK!) every year. What, exactly, does a strategy like that get you? Tyler Hansbrough? (DRINK!) Shawne Williams? Jerryd Bayless, who somehow turned into Jarrett Jack, Josh McRoberts (DRINK!) and Brandon Rush?
Honestly, you have to feel a little sorry for this team. They are most definitely a storied franchise, what with winning three ABA Championships before their jump to the NBA. In the Association, they’d kept that winning spirit going, advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals five times and even making it to the NBA Finals once. Plus, this is INDIANA we’re talking about: home of the Hoosiers, legitimate down-and-dirty high school basketball, Hinkle Fieldhouse, and some of the greatest college basketball fans on earth (unless you’re from Purdue. Sorry, KC is a Hoosier alum. DRINK! for the obvious bias, and also because she said so, and also for Robbie Hummel). So, if you’re from Indiana or simply admire the state’s intrinsic connection to basketball, hearing rumors of the team moving is more than disconcerting … it’s downright depressing.
Earl Watson, Troy Murphy (DRINK!)
Ok, let’s skip over Earl Watson. Sorry. The guy is just not a factor, and plus, he doesn’t help us drink. Troy Murphy (DRINK!) was a big part of Indiana’s game last year (14.6 ppg, 10.6 rpg). He’s one of the only power forwards we can think of in the NBA that can hit 3-pointers with consistency and still nab 10+ boards a night (oh yeah … also, Kevin Love. DRINK!). Cleveland made the wrong move last year in pursuing Jamison, they should’ve targeted Murphy (DRINK! heh) instead.
Paul George, Lance Stephenson, Darren Collison, James Posey, a much-improved Roy Hibbert.
At one point, Lance Stephenson was the best player coming out of high school. But like most of the recent New York product PGs, “Born Ready” can’t seem to stay on the right side of the law (DRINK!). After a promising preseason game, he went home and done threw his girlfriend down a flight of stairs. This is what we call “pulling an Elijah Dukes.” And it is not smart. We ain’t even bullshittin’.
Paul George might turn out to be an absolute beast if he can live up to his potential (DRINK! weeee are you drunk yet?). This might very well be the first legit player Larry Bird (DRINK!) has drafted since he took over the GM job. Wait, no, make that the second … Roy Hibbert is looking like the center Indiana was hoping he’d become.
James Posey was nothing but a throw-in, New Orleans didn’t want him and naturally, Indiana didn’t want him. BUT, Indiana really wanted Darren Collison so they bit the bullet and took on Posey’s albatross contract. Darren Collison showed the world his skill set last year when Chris Paul was injured and Larry Bird (DRINK!) was sold on Collison’s potential (DRINK!). Darren could actually turn out to be an 18-and-8 player this year for the Pacers.
Indiana needs a basketball team. Not just any team, no, they need the goddamn PACERS and they need them to start winning games like, now. It’s seriously the only way this team can pull out of such sticky financial woes and keep the franchise in Indiana. It has to happen this year and with this roster. Reggie Miller ain’t walkin’ in through that door. Rik Smits (DRINK!) and Dale Davis ain’t walkin’ in through that door. The burden lies with everyone involved to put points on the board, W’s on the schedule and people back in Area 55.
If the Pacers can get these youngsters to mesh and Danny Granger can play at an All-Star level, they have a good shot of taking that 8th seed out East. It’s that simple. Granger can straight-out ball. Hibbert spent his offseason with Bill Walton (DRINK!), a man who had endless moves and dominant defense. I am expecting big things this year. KC is expecting big things this year. Larry Bird (DRINK!) is expecting big things. And damnit, Indiana is expecting big things.
The time is now for this team because if they don’t find themselves still on the court into May, they just might find themselves playing in a different city come next year. And that just won’t do.
We have taken 24 shots during this preview. YEAAAAYUHHH!
Calling it now: Indiana will take the 8th seed out East. (Sorry, Cleveland)
Roy Hibbert WILL BE AN ALL-STAR
Twitter: @hoya2apacer, @8pts9secs, @indycornrows
Web: http://www.indycornrows.com, http://www.eightpointsnineseconds.com/
-KC and @Suga_Shane
MIKE DUNLEAVY JR. (DRINK!)