View Full Version : Close might have to be good enough

04-22-2011, 01:57 PM

This is who the Pacers are right now: a half-formed lump of clay, a young, incomplete team that desperately needs a low-post presence who can take over late-game situations.

We saw it in Game 1. And Game 2. And Game 3. As Mike Dunleavy said after Thursday night's 88-84 Game 3 loss, "It's been Groundhog Day.''

Sorry, but Reggie Miller, one of the league's greatest closers ever, isn't walking through those Conseco Fieldhouse doors any time soon.

Time is the best remedy for what ails this franchise.

Here was a scene from the postgame locker room that captured the essence of a team still fighting through an ungainly adolescence. Roy Hibbert, who just hasn't taken advantage of a good matchup with Joakim Noah in this series, stood in the corner and groused about how he wasn't getting the ball often enough in the low post.

Next to him, veteran Dahntay Jones sat in his chair and, overhearing Hibbert, shook his head.

The lesson is, you can't complain about a lack of low-post touches when you shoot a mushy 3-for-12 and take zero free throws. Hibbert is the most likable personality on this team and has shown flashes, but he's got to be tougher if this team is going to break through in the years to come.

If we didn't know before, we know now: Larry Bird -- or whoever is running this team -- needs to find an athletic big man who can draw double teams or go hard to the basket and head to the free throw line. (Another perimeter scorer would be nice, too.)

"We're taking good, big steps, but to take that next one, we've got to have a low-post threat we can go to on a consistent basis,'' Jones said. "Not someone who makes plays on good nights, not occasionally, but a lot more than occasionally. I think we have guys who are capable, but they're still growing into their roles.''

In the playoffs, teams are just too good at taking away the first -- and often the second -- option. All night, the Pacers offense was a still life, a bunch of guys standing around like they were waiting for a bus. There were seven assists in the first half. There were a paltry four in the second half.

In the first two games of the series, the Pacers had success on pick-and-rolls and moving the ball back out to the screener for open shots. In Game 3, Pacers interim coach Frank Vogel noted that the Bulls pre-rotated; that is, they rotated over a third defender to cover the screener. The way to beat that is to move the ball, make the skip pass, find the open man who has been left alone by the vacating defender.

Didn't happen.

Right now, the Pacers are taking graduate-level courses when they haven't yet finished their freshman requirements.

The Pacers' final offensive possession was a microcosm of this series, one that left Danny Granger shaking his head after the game, muttering how he was left with what he called "a double-pump (3-pointer) with two guys in my face.''

Granger got the ball off a screen but was trapped by two defenders. The Bulls didn't win 62 games by being dumb: They know Granger is the only real option, having scored eight of the Pacers' final 10 points.

With two defenders in his face, he gave it up to Darren Collison, who should have attacked the basket and tried to make something happen. Maybe it was the ankle and maybe not, but he mistakenly gave it back to Granger, whose 3-point prayer didn't, well, have a prayer.

Another night, another heart-wrenching loss, but still . . . is there another NBA city where fans of the team trailing 3-zip feel better about their team than they do in Indy? It's not much solace, but this group is playing its guts out, and at this point, isn't that all anybody wanted?

More than that, the Pacers have grabbed an apathetic city's attention. Thursday night, it felt, looked and sounded like a playoff game, even if there were a lot of Bulls fans.

This may turn into the most competitive sweep -- or five-game series -- in NBA playoffs history. Get this: In the first three games, the Bulls have never led by more than seven points.

"We're so close,'' Paul George said quietly.

For now, close is just going to have to be good enough.

I thought Kravitz did a good job explaining that even though this series is 3-0, it is far from your normal 3-0 series.

I think that most people have probably been looking at the box scores, and will jump on if we start winning games, but you can't describe this team's will and intensity on the box score.

This team has been putting everything on the line, and they want to get a win so bad. The players know that this series could easily be 3-0 in their favor, which I think is motivating them even more.

I agree that we are probably the happiest city to ever be down 3-0 but that's because we have been beating all expectations. As a city, as a state, we have a lot to be excited about.

The Bulls are going to remember this team. I think the Bulls and Pacers are slowly beginning to figure out that records don't matter, and each game is a slugfest to the end.

I really hope our guys can win game 4 because they truly deserve it. No matter what the outcome is after game 4, our players, and our fans, have nothing to be ashamed of.

I won't be surprised either if we see the Bulls in the Eastern Conference Finals 2 or 3 years down the road. This is just a preview of what is to come in the future.

04-22-2011, 02:56 PM
Roy Hibbert, who just hasn't taken advantage of a good matchup with Joakim Noah in this series

Kravitz's lack of knowledge of the NBA is showing here. Did anybody on this board think that Noah was a good matchup for Hibbert?

04-22-2011, 03:25 PM
I think Hibbert has gotten a crazy amount of good looks, he just hasn't made them. Not to mention Noah's gotten in foul trouble in games 1 and 2.

I think Noah's help defense has been a lot better than his individual performance on Roy. It's a matter of Roy hitting shots, and he's just not doing it.

For all the Granger and DC talk, I'm most disappointed in Roy. The Pacers can't win without inside play, and outside of Game 1, they haven't gotten any.

Infinite MAN_force
04-22-2011, 03:28 PM
Kravitz's lack of knowledge of the NBA is showing here. Did anybody on this board think that Noah was a good matchup for Hibbert?

There were a decent amount of people saying they thought Hibbert should be able to get his shot off over Noah, that Noah was better suited to guarding athletic post players and Hibbert would have an advantage because of his size.

I wouldn't call it a big matchup advantage either way, but I don't know if Kravitz is necessarily way off base here.

Infinite MAN_force
04-22-2011, 03:31 PM
I think Hibbert has gotten a crazy amount of good looks, he just hasn't made them.

This. Unfortunately.

04-22-2011, 04:13 PM
Roy is showing something that he has shown more often than not throughout his short career so far...

He can basically dominate against teams with bad defense and weak post presence, but he is nearly useless against teams the opposite of that. I really like Roy a lot but people have been putting much too much on his shoulders and expecting him to be an All-Star level center, when he just isn't that yet. If he could give us consistent solid (not even great, just solid) production, we would probably be leading this series right now.

04-22-2011, 04:30 PM
Kravitz's lack of knowledge of the NBA is showing here. Did anybody on this board think that Noah was a good matchup for Hibbert?

I felt that Kravitz was right here as well. If Hibbert was making the shots he should make, we would probably have a game or two. Maybe all of them.

Roy has also been hurting himself more than anyone by getting into foul trouble in the games.

I think he has been trying to do to much, when all we needed him to do was make his presence felt. If your in a bad position, pass the ball. He just needs to learn how to be smarter with the basketball in his hands.

04-22-2011, 04:38 PM
Hibbert is just soft... always tries to do to much IMO, if bad position just pass the ball!