Pacers ink Vogel and sink Heat

Posted: January 10, 2013 in Indiana Pacers

pacers vs. heat

Indiana Pacers: 87 Miami Heat: 77

Just a few days after the Indiana Pacers extended Frank Vogel’s contract for an undisclosed amount, his players showed their coach the love by holding the reigning NBA champs to only 77 points! While the Pacers have had their struggles  earlier in the season they seem to be jelling at the right time. With their record 21-14 and their rebounding and defense topping the NBA these Pacers are certainly keeping the ship afloat while they still wait for last year’s leading scorer, Danny Granger, to come back from his left knee injury. While the team is still in the bottom of the NBA in scoring and passing their defense has provided them with an edge over the competition. It is certainly an edge that the Pacer’s players seem to indulge in with relish and it was on full display Tuesday when they held the Heat to their worst offensive outing of the season.

One would assume that Granger would immediately help the Pacers with their scoring, but I would caution that it could also mess with the team’s chemistry right now adding someone who looks to score with the ball in his hand. I am sure that Vogel will look to ease the former All-Star back into the rotation since we still are currently on the top of a very shaky Central Division.

As for the Miami Heat, I think the Pacers might finally have a rivalry worth watching and not just us beating up on former rivals like the Bucks or Pistons.

 

andrew luck

The 2012-2013 NFL season has finally come to a close and with the Wild Card playoff games looming in the next few days it is time to start discussing who gets their hands on certain individual achievement awards. This season in particular is a sports bloggers dream as there is plenty to debate and every side is deeply entrenched on their own side. I might begin by discussing who wins Comeback Player of the Year or MVP (probably the same person). Today I will be discussing who wins the Rookie of the Year award and who Should win.

This race has certainly become a 3 horse race with Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, and Russell Wilson all very deserving of getting this honor. To help sway those of you who are not on the Andrew Luck ROY bandwagon I figured I should breakdown these 3 fine gentlemen’s seasons and prove through hard evidence that the Colt’s rookie signal-caller rightfully deserves to win this award.

Russell Wilson:

252 Completions, 393 Attempts, 3,118 yds. 26 TD 10 INT

russell wilson

Russell Wilson is one of the best rookie stories this season. Drafted by the Seahawks in the 3rd round, the diminutive Wilson knew he would be coming in with a chip on his shoulder. Even more surprisingly was that Wilson was drafted right after Seahawk management forked over big money to the Green Bay Packer’s Matt Flynn to be their future quarterback. It was in training camp that Head Coach Pete Carroll ultimately decided to go with the ultra-competitive quarterback out of Wisconsin. It is a decision that has proven to be wish as the Seahawks will be playing in the playoffs on Sunday. It’s too bad for Wilson that this particular season had to be his rookie season, because he would probably have won the ROY award had it not for other guys (1st round picks) Luck and Griffin getting all the attention. He leads all rookies with the most touchdowns, 26, and has a high completion and passer rating. You might be wondering then why he won’t win!

Honestly, his team is too good. By now everyone has become aware that the Seahawks are hiding a very good defense up in the Pacific Northwest. One that boasts a secondary full of tough, athletic, and long defensive backs. Now pair that with a stout offensive line and a Pro-Bowl runningback who had over 1,500 yards this season and almost any capable quarterback should be able to pass for those type of numbers when you can use play-action to your advantage. Sorry Russell, if Luck doesn’t get ROY then you’re my guy, but I think you have too many things against you, most importantly being you are located in a division people don’t care about.

Robert Griffin III

258 Completions, 393 Attempts, 3,200 yds. 20 TD 5 INT

robert griffin III

Here’s the guy that has taken the NFL by storm this season. There was much doubt about what kind of pro player Griffin would be and how his style of play would transfer into a pro system where rookie quarterbacks, and Heisman winners, have come and gone quickly. Griffin, and more importantly the Washington Redskins have learned how to work together and have created one of the NFL’s most dangerous offenses. The one knock against Griffin is his slight build and whether he could handle himself if he were to get “laid out” by a guy like DeMarcus Ware or Justin Tuck. Certainly his numbers would be much better his season if he had not gotten hurt and played in 2 full NFL games this season. While he has the lowest turnover rate of all the rookie passers and he has also rushed for over 700 yards on the ground he shouldn’t win the ROY award either.

Much like Russell Wilson in Seattle benefiting from having a solid run game, Griffin also has a bruising, halfback in fellow rookie Alfred Morris. Morris this season has been huge for the Redskins running for over 1,600 yards and 13 touchdowns! Just like Marshawn Lynch benefits the Seahawks by allowing for the use of the play action pass, Morris has been able to do the same. It is play action where Griffin really lights it up as he is able to launch the ball with that “grenade launcher” he calls an arm to his speedy wide receiving corps. Griffin also benefits from having a good offensive line complete with a Pro-Bowl left tackle in Trent Williams this season. His defense, while not at all like the Seahawks, is stout and can harden when it needs to. The one thing that really makes RGIII impressive is that he plays in the NFC East, one of the NFL’s tougher divisions. Not only does he play in this rough division, but his team is the only one from that division in the playoffs!

RGIII will probably win the ROY award because he is the real deal and he is a born leader. He also is in one of the most profitable markets in the NFL being in Washington D.C. He has been sensational this season, but what if I told you he isn’t even the rookie who broke the Redskins passing record for a game this season. It was 4th round draft pick out of Michigan State, Kirk Cousins who threw for 329 yards and a win against the Eagles while RGIII was nursing an injury. So is it RGIII or the system that Kyle Shanahan is running for him Washington? Honestly, I really think that it is RGIII and not some system, but I just don’t see how you can give the ROY award to a guy who missed 2 games and who had his fellow rookie backup throw for more yards than him in a game this season. Unfortunately, the Cousins win is probably already forgotten by both Redskins fans and the mainstream sports media so might as well just give it to RGIII!

Andrew Luck

339 Completions, 627 Attempts, 4,374 yds. 23 TD 18 INT

andrew luck 2

So here he is Colts fans the guy we are hoping will lead us to a victory on Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens. Andrew Luck, the first pick in the draft and the guy who won an unprecedented 11 games this year after Indy only one 2 last season! Ultimately, though that doesn’t matter to the people that vote on things like who the best rookie is this year. What they are going to look at are the things like his 18 interceptions and 10 fumbles. If people were wondering whether or not #12 would be anything like Peyton Manning then he surely did his best to try and match Manning for his career high 31 turnovers his rookie year. Something that was overlooked in 1998 as Manning was still able to snag the Rookie of the Year honors that year. 1998 and 2012 are two completely different eras in the NFL nowadays. With rule changes and college coaches doing a better job preparing these young players for the pros a lot more is expected out of rookies in the NFL today.

The reason that Andrew Luck deserves ROY is because not only did he break the rookie record for passing yardage this season (passing more than most other veteran quarterbacks around the league), but he did it with so many circumstances pushing against him. The circumstances are as follows: 1) he is playing in a stadium that Peyton Manning helped build playing the same position, 2) he is playing on a team that was 2-14 last season with most of its veteran core completely gutted this season, 3) he is playing almost entirely with rookies on offense save for a future Hall of Famer in Reggie Wayne, 4) unlike Wilson and Griffin he doesn’t have a running game even remotely close to those two, 5) the Colt’s offensive line has been a total caurosel of injuries and has blocked poorly at times as well, 6) he has thrown the ball almost as much as Wilson and Griffin combined, 7) with the Colt’s defense not being all that good this season that has put Luck in the position of having to play from behind on many possessions, 8) with Chuck Pagano being diagnosed with cancer and Offensive Coordinator being named interim Head Coach Luck lost a lot of developmental time and one-on-one time with his coordinator.

So there you have it. It almost seems unlikely that anybody else could win the ROY award when you start looking at all the evidence at hand, but you should know that this is as much as a popularity contest than an award that rewards players who have been the most outstanding rookie at their position. All these rookies could win this award, but I think that Luck has shown that he is the man that deserves it. All that said, I think the hype surrounding Robert Griffin III will be too much. Just read <a href= “http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/8813105/2013-nfl-playoffs-jim-irsay-big-gambles-indianapolis-colts”>Skip Bayless’ article</a> condemning the Colt’s franchise for not picking RGIII and pretty much saying that Luck was the dumbest thing we could have ever done as a franchise. If you’re a Colt’s fan it will piss you off!

Playoffs!?! Playoffs!?!?!

Posted: October 30, 2012 in Indianapolis Colts

Record: 4-3 (My preseason prediction: 3-5)

How ’bout them Colts eh? I am not sure anyone, even the most ardent Colt’s fans thought that in this post-Peyton Manning era this team would ever have a measure of success this soon. Andrew Luck has been everything he was heralded as when the Colts selected him out of Stanford with the first pick in the draft. He is a big, tough, quarterback that is not only good, but seemingly wills games with his determination. That doesn’t mean that there has been bad games or mistakes made, but when you take into consideration that this guy was still completing his degree at Stanford 4 months ago, his maturation is pretty radical. Factor in things like he has one of the highest QBR’s of all NFL quarterbacks and his porous offensive line has made him hit the second most of all quarterbacks, not something to be taken lightly, just as David Carr or Jim Everett.

Not only has Luck been stellar in his first season so far, but the team has really stepped up to play. Reggie Wayne has been unconscious  leading the league with  757 yards receiving and 54 receptions. Remember this guy is doing all this even after his bye week! The other rookies are starting to contribute as well, guys like T.Y. Hilton, Dwayne Allen, and most recently Vick Ballard have all become contributing members to this young offense. Ryan Grigson has done a fantastic job assembling this “motley crew” of men who have all bought into coach Pagano’s plan of building a “Monster” and not “rebuilding”. Players such as Jerrell Freeman have and Cassius Vaughn have been great finds and continue to play well as starters on defense.

Despite the winning record and the “light” upcoming schedule, this Colt’s team cannnot get complacent. While this team has shown a whole lot of heart bouncing back after the announcement of Coach Pagano’s Leukemia diagnosis they still have major holes that need to be filled. The offensive line is a mess, the defensive line has shown flashes but is still inconsistent, and our secondary has yet to really look good an entire game yet. However, with the AFC a mess, and the Colts moving up in the power rankings all the way to #15 fans are talking about playoffs this season, something not even Jim Mora would dare utter.

 

Happy Halloween!

Posted: October 30, 2012 in Indiana Pacers

On the eve of a new, full, NBA season, I thought it was appropriate to take this time to talk about our Indiana Pacers. This year the Pacers were able to retain their starting 5 players from last year by resigning both George Hill and Roy Hibbert this off-season. Not only were the Pacers able to keep one of the most successful starting units from last season, but more importantly they improved their bench by acquiring Gerald Green and Ian Mahinmi, both of which should dramatically help the 2nd unit remain competitive as well as give depth to the team overall.

Unfortunately, some of our new additions are going to have to step it up as we might be starting the season on Halloween short two men. George Hill is questionable for the season opener with problems with his hip and it was just announced today that Danny Granger is out indefinitely to get a second opinion on his knee. While losing Hill is a tough blow for his athleticism, ball control, and defense I am more worried about Granger. Hill’s back-up is D.J. Augustin, who while a liability on defense, might be just as good, if not better than Hill on offense and getting the rest of the team involved. Losing our top scorer and team captain in Granger might be a little bit tougher to replace, especially if it looks like he will be out for a while. I think Gerald Green is a great acquisition and will contribute greatly to the Pacers, but I am not so sure he can come in and do all the things Danny is able to do, most notably, shoot the basketball. It is time for Paul George to assume his role as the player most Pacer fans are hoping he will be and hold down the fort until our wounded captain returns.

Even with the loss of these two starters the Pacers should still hold a definite edge in the Eastern Conference with their size in the front court and solid defense. If the Pacers lose their home opener against the woeful Raptors I will be very disappointed because I still think they have what it takes to totally rout    Toronto!

As far as the Pacers are concerned as contenders in the NBA it is bothering me how so many people are failing to realize how good this team really is and was last season. NBA analysts such as John Hollinger and Chris Broussard believe that the Pacers are a legit threat in the East, but other “talking heads” and fans are not giving the Pacers any credit. When ESPN Magazine released its power rankings for each Conference it had the Pacers ranked 8th in the East! 8th!?!?! Eighth!?!?! Ocho!?!?! Acht!?!?! Who besides the Miami Heat are better than Indiana? The Bulls, they might be without Derrick Rose for most of the season. The Nets, I am not buying them yet. I might give you the Celtics because they are all veterans and did improve a little through the draft and free agency, but c’mon!

The long and short of it is that the Indiana Pacers should be a very good team this season and are looking to build off of a solid showing against the reigning World Champions in the playoffs. I fully expect them to be 1st in the Central, 2nd in the Eastern Conference, and at least 5th in the NBA overall. Bank on a postseason in Banker’s Life Fieldhouse this season!

Pacers getting stronger

Posted: August 3, 2012 in Indiana Pacers

D.J. Augustin, 6′, 180 lbs. (Free Agent)

The Pacers were able to acquire free-agent point guard from the Charlotte Bobcats for a one year, $3.5 million deal. This deal allows for the Pacers to have a solid back-up to George Hill and provide some added insurance at the point guard position in case Lance Stephenson isn’t as far along as he is believed to be. The move also provides Augustin with some respite coming off a historically bad NBA team in the Bobcats. Augustin will have to get used to be ing the back-up, but something tells me if this team is able to go far in the playoffs this year that being a back-up is  not going to bother him.

Gerald Green, 6’8″, 200 lbs. (Free Agent)

During the Pacers whirlwind, offseason tour they were able to bolster their depth at the 3 and the 4 positions by adding NBA journeyman, Gerald Green. Despite showing promise early in his NBA career while with the Boston Celtics and winning the 2007 NBA Slam Dunk competition he faded over the next six years until making his resurgence in the NBA’s D-league and the New Jersey Nets last season. Coming out of nowhere he was able to average a career best 12.9 points last season while only getting 25.2 minutes off the bench. Green hasn’t really put together a great  track record of consistency so the Pacers only offered him a one year deal worth only $413,000 so it’s a high risk/high reward signing by the team. If it does work out the franchise will be receiving a uber athletic player who can contribute at both ends of the court, and at 26 years old he still has plenty of upside.

If he can throw it down like this, one thing is for sure, the Pacers will be on Sportscenter’s top ten!

 

Ian Mahinmi, 6’11”, 230 lbs. (via trade with Dallas Mavericks)

The Pacers decided to add more depth to their frontcourt by trading away Darren Collison and Dahntay Jones to the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for 6’11” center Ian Mahinmi. While many people questioned the Pacer’s logic in performing a sign and trade for a player who was an unrestricted free agent, according to Pacer’s General Manager Kevin Pritchard it had to happen to make things work so I won’t question it and you shouldn’t either. Just know that this is a good thing. Mahinmi gives the Pacers a legitimate center who provides size in the middle and could even be called to start if Hibbert was injured. For those people who weren’t huge on the Plumlee draft pick, it gives us a proven back up while Plumlee is able to watch and learn.

Much like I previously wrote about Miles Plumlee being an improvement over Lou Amundson as far as giving the Pacers size and athleticism inside, the same can be said for Ian Mahinmi as well. It kind of sucks that we had to lose Jones who I think has been nothing but a professional and has done well defensively, but getting rid of his contract and replacing him with Gerald Green wasn’t a bad move financially either. It also stinks to have to lose Collison who really stepped up defensively in the playoffs, however losing him tells me that the Pacer’s management must like what they’re seeing from Lance Stephenson and how he is developing. Altogether I am happy with the trade and can’t wait to have a powerful presence inside defensively.

 

Meet the Rookies

Posted: August 3, 2012 in Indiana Pacers

Miles Plumlee, 6’10”, 240 lbs. 

Despite most scouts believing that the Plumlee pick was a reach by the Pacers and they should have taken either Perry Jones III from Baylor or Marquis Teague (another Indiana native) from Kentucky, the Pacers were able to get bigger at the center position. The drafting of Plumlee looks like it will ultimately mean the end of Louis Amundon’s career as a Pacer, but Plumlee represents more of a true center whereas Amundson was just an overachiever (he was only 6’9″).

It seems that if you’re a Pacer big man coming into the organization in the last 10 years and you happen to be white, then you’re going to get compared to Jeff Foster. While Plumlee seems to be a much more athletic big man then Foster, this comparison still remains to be seen. It certainly doesn’t hold much water when you compare the two men’s college careers with Foster averaging 14.2 ppg and 11.3 rebounds his senior season at tiny Texas State University and Plumlee averaging only 6.6 ppg and 7.1 rebounds his best season with the Duke Blue Devils. However, after promising pre-draft workouts as well as a strong showing during the NBA Summer League, it looks like Plumlee could have just been used mostly as a rebounder, big body, and screen setter. With the the Pacer’s acquisition of Ian Mahinmi, Plumlee will get a chance to watch two very good centers and hone his craft.

Orlando Johnson, 6’5″, 224 lbs.

When the Pacers acquired Leandro Barbosa from the Toronto Raptors last year they had to give up their 2nd round pick from this year’s draft. Picking up Barbosa for only a 2nd round pick right at the trade deadline was a no-brainer for the Pacer bench that desperately needed help scoring off the bench. While Barbosa helped boost the Pacer’s bench he remained a liability on defense (as we saw in this year’s playoffs against Dwyane Wade) and was never really able to heat up from the three point line. So it was surprising when the Pacers drafted Miles Plumlee in the 1st round and then were able to acquire a 2nd round pick for cash considerations from the Sacramento Kings. What the Pacers were able to get was a 6’5″ true shooting guard that was a scoring machine at UC  Santa Barbara and has many scouts thinking that he has a good chance at getting significant starting time off of the bench. In college he averaged 17.8 points throughout his career, but after he transferred from Loyola Marymount to UC Santa Barbara his scoring improved dramatically. With the strong performances from Lance Stephenson in the Summer League, along with the acquisition of Gerald Green, I think that while it was too bad that Barbosa will most likely not be rejoining the Pacers he won’t be missed in 2012.

Heat Check!

Posted: May 19, 2012 in Indiana Pacers

Game #3 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals

Pacers: 94 Heat: 75

Well for one Indiana Fans showed up at last night’s game, but I can’t say the same about the Miami Heat. After last year’s playoff embarrassment of thousands of Bulls fans making Conseco Fieldhouse feel like it was in Chicago, paired with the fact the Pacers were 2nd to last in home attendance this year, despite being the 5th best team in the NBA, I was a little nervous on how this game was going to go. I had nightmares of a sea of #6 Lebron and #3 Dwayne Wade jerseys making our arena a “blackout”. Fortunately, this did not happen and I only noticed a handful of opposing fans, certainly there were a lot less than I had imagined there would be. The atmosphere was simply electric and spectacular! I had the privilege of going to the home opener against the Detroit Pistons on December 26th, and it was also a sold out game with a ton of energy, but it was nothing, and I mean nothing like the type of excitement and energy that the Indiana faithful were displaying Thursday. You could tell the Pacer players were feeding off of it to and that made the place even louder as Indiana was just absolutely hammering the Heat in the second half. I doubt the Miami Heat have ever played in Indiana where the opposing crowd was ever that voracious and hostile towards their team.

Despite the ending score of Indiana winning by 19 points, the 1st half of the game felt like it was going to be fought tooth and nail until the final buzzer. The Heat were able to go up by 9 points during the first half and seemed poised to continue adding to their lead, but the Pacers were able to stand there own ground and ended up evenning the score by halftime.

After halftime the Pacers once again proved that the first quarter is their friend absolutely killing the Heat on the glass and in the paint. Roy Hibbert became, “who we thought he was” and had arguably the best night of his career getting 19 points, 18 rebounds, and 5 blocks and slowly becoming a household name around the country. Look for the Pacer bigs of Hibbert and West to continue to attack the paint in the absence of Chris Bosh. It looks as if the Pacers game plan is to clog the middle of the floor to stop Wade and Lebron from getting easy baskets, while at the same time willing to let the other Heat players beat them from range. So far, so good, but this was a game where no Heat players other than Lebron James and Mario Chalmers could hit the broad side of a barn. I wouldn’t expect that every game, particularly from a player of Dwayne Wade’s caliber. To win game 5 the Pacers cannot expect that either, and will have to come out with the same kind of energy we are seeing from them in the previous game to really take a strangle hold over this series.

Roy Hibbert needs to continue playing like this for the Pacers to continue to deal some damage in the Paint!

Game #2 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals

Pacers: 78 Heat: 75

Slow down and take a breath, because that was as heart stopping a game #2 as the Pacers have played since coming into the NBA! After starting out promising with our team going to Hibbert in the post and him converting most of his shots we began to totally go stagnant on offense. Nobody could hit their shots in what is becoming an alarming trend from our bench players early in games. If it wasn’t for the decent defense Indiana was playing and the fact that the Heat were missing some open shots, this game could have taken on a much different tone.

After struggling through the end of the 1st quarter and most of the 2nd, the Pacers were finally able to wake up on offense and go on an impressive 9-0 run that tied the game up. If it wasn’t for a hail-maryesque three point shot from Shane Battier and an all too common floater from James, the score would have probably stayed that way until halftime. After halftime the Pacers proved once again that the  3rd quarter has been their quarter all season long by playing great basketball. Whether it was passing, defending, or shooting the Pacers, and that includes the guys coming off the bench, were great. David West especially deserves credit for being exceptionally solid in the second half and really making a case for becoming the Pacers go-to guy at the end of games.

It came as no surprise that the Heat were able to battle their way back into the game and it even got a little chippy between James and Granger even though James, to his credit, didn’t seem to say or do anything but scowl. Something that might be interesting to keep an eye on the rest of these playoffs. With multiple opportunities to sink free throws that would have put the game out of reach, the Pacers really started choking. Paul George in particular, who missed all of his attempts, was extremely disappointing again offensively, but does get a pass for his great defense on both Lebron and Wade and the fact that he had a nasty tomahawk slam dunk on a fast break. Luckily for the Pacers Lebron James missed some key free throws as well and when it was time to take the last shot in the game it wasn’t Wade or James with the ball in their hands, but Mario Chalmers. A guy that only finished with 2 points and was unable to hit the last second three point shot that would have sent the game into overtime. Pacers win!

This win is huge for Indiana, who is now looking at two games at home in Banker’s Life on Thursday and Saturday. Not only does it tie the series but it also gives our guys a whole bunch of confidence knowing that they can play with the darlings of the NBA. Unlike the previous game where Indiana broke down on defense, I thought we were able to play good defense the entire game, even when we were only shooting 32% at halftime. I also thought that this game, unlike the previous one, was called a whole look better. I have to give Joey Crawford, the lead official some credit. Even though he can sometimes get into a grumpy, old man mood, he didn’t put up with too much crap on both sides and wasn’t going to call those pesky flopping calls.

Moving forward the Pacers can’t be happy with just one win against a potential Finals team. They have to continue attacking while Miami is without Chris Bosh and have to try and look for guys more often in the post. After getting off to a great start offensively Roy Hibbert was a ghost out there. That has to change since guys like Granger and George are going to continue to struggle against the defense of Miami’s two superstars. Tonight’s game was extremely sloppy and the Pacers were just able to make enough plays for it to turn into a win. Now at home they need to play better as the Lebron James and Dwayne Wade are going to continue to show up for every game.

Escape from Orlando

Posted: May 5, 2012 in Indiana Pacers

OT Pacers: 101 Magic: 99

Pacers up in the series 3-1

Well the Pacers overcame a potential meltdown after looking like they had all but sealed this game and series up in the beginning of the fourth quarter. Even though the elimination game is always the most important game in the series, teams trying to go for that 3rd win are also trying to demoralize their opponents. In the Pacer’s case, game 4, was supposed to be the “back breaker” game and until about 5 minutes in the fourth it looked like it was going to be just that.

 

After building a 19 point lead the Pacers never gave relinquish their lead, but allowed the Magic to come all the way back and tie it multiple times. Letting them send the game into overtime as well as letting them have a chance to win at the end of the game! I won’t go into too much detail about the game since I am having trouble sitting still, but without our Big 3 (West, Granger, and Hibbert) we probably would have lost. I thought we got really good contributions from our bench, Collison especially looked like a different player out there, and while George Hill was invisible for most of the game, he really showed up at the end and was able to knock down a couple of circus shots, as well as some very important free throws.

 

The Pacers should come away from this game with some lessons about letting off of the gas too soon. You just can’t do it in the playoffs! This team can be really pesky with their Bowling Ball center and collection of Misfit Toy-esque three point specialists, and I would be thrilled to wipe them out on Tuesday for good!  Our boys should be able to secure the win in front of our home crowd, but will need to play much better as a team down the stretch in order to do so!

No Magic in Orlando

Posted: May 3, 2012 in Indiana Pacers

Pacers: 97  Magic: 74

Game #3: Pacers lead the series 2-1

If Dennis Green was coaching the Orlando Magic right now he would probably be telling his guys, “They are who we thought they were!” right now. It seems that the Pacers are indeed who everyone “thought they were” or would be against an Orlando Magic team that is without their star big man in Dwight Howard. That is not to say it has been a cake walk, however, as the Magic went nuts from long distance in game #1 and were able to beat the Pacers 81-77. They did get some help from Indiana in that game though when the Pacers went on a 4 minute scoring drought late in the 4th quarter and had costly mistakes by their team captain Danny Granger.

These last two games have been different as the Pacers are using the 3rd quarter to firmly put their boots on Orlando’s neck! In the 1st and 2nd game of the series the Pacers were getting great minutes from David West, who has emerged since April to be the Pacer’s secret weapon. While we ended up losing the first game we were able to bounce back in game #2 with West scoring 18 points and pulling down 11 rebounds as the Pacers defense and fast break points broke the Magic’s back. Tonight, while West only scored 4 points, his presence on the floor was huge. His ability to create screens and good ball movement should not be overlooked and he was still able to do a decent job rebounding.

Tonight’s win firmly belongs to Roy Hibbert and Danny Granger though. Danny scored a new playoff career high with 26 points, and was one board away from a double-double. Hibbert was able to turn a mediorce 1st half and explode with 18 points, 10 rebounds (5 offensive), and 3 blocks that were the main reason the Pacers were able to pull away after halftime!

You have to like what you’re seeing if you’re a Pacer fan as it looks like the Magic aren’t confident that they can win anymore despite good plays from Glenn Davis (when he is not making an ass out of himself by dancing at center court) and J.J. Reddick. While this might’ve been a good, competitive series with Dwight Howard it would seem that if you are looking for Magic in Orlando you probably should try Disney World.