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01-19-2004, 10:58 AM
The Pacer Report: Midseason Edition
By Marc F. Roberts
Jan 18, 2004, 19:36 Email this article
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Mid-Season Report

We are at the halfway point of the 2003-04 NBA season, and to everyone’s surprise the Indiana Pacers have the NBA’s best record at 31-11. While we as Pacer Fans all knew the Pacers would be this good (wink, wink), they have outperformed nearly everyone else’s expectation, and are finally receiving some much deserved respect as a legitimate title contender. Team accomplishments aren’t the only thing the Pacers are being recognized for either. Many Pacers are receiving credit for their outstanding individual performances. Here is a look at the NBA Awards, and the Pacers who have a chance at winning them.

Award: MVP
NBA Favorite: Kevin Garnett
Pacer with best chance: Jermaine O’Neal
Likelihood of a Pacer winning the award: 10%

Jermaine O’Neal is the MVP of the Eastern Conference, hands down. Things out West aren’t so easy, however. Regulars like Shaq, Kobe, and Chris Webber aren’t in the running this year because of injury, but the list is still very crowed with the likes of Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan, and newcomer Peja Stojakovic. Chris Webber should be back in action soon, which should eliminate Peja from contention. The likelihood is still that this Award will again come down to either Tim Duncan or Kevin Garnett. However, If the Pacers are able to have an even better record in the second half of the season than they did in the first half, and finish with say 65 wins, then the voters will have to take a long, hard look at Jermaine O’Neal.

Award: Coach of the Year
NBA Favorite: Jerry Sloan
Pacer with best chance: Rick Carlisle
Likelihood of a Pacer winning the award: 20%

Jerry Sloan is head and shoulders above everyone else right now, and if he can manage to limp the Jazz, a team that just lost one of their best players in Matt Harpring, back to the playoffs, then he should be the unanimous Coach of the Year. However, if the Jazz falter and start losing with more regularity look for Carlisle to be the frontrunner of a crowed group that includes Larry Brown of Detroit, Hubbie Brown of Memphis, Jeff Bzdelik of Denver, and Rick Adlemen of Sacramento to win the Award.

Award: Rookie of the Year
NBA Favorite: LeBron James
Pacer with best chance: James Jones
Likelihood of a Pacer winning the award: 0%

Even though James Jones “officially” qualifies for this Award, I cannot imagine any situation, including injury, in which Jones would have even the slightest possibility of getting a single vote for this Award, much less winning it. Right now this is a two-man race between LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony and, barring injury, it should be for the duration of the season. LeBron is the only NBA player averaging over 20 points, six rebounds, and six assists a game, while Carmelo is averaging 18 points and six rebounds, all while leading the lowly Nuggets back to the promised land. It’s should be a toss-up, but in the end I think LeBron will come out ahead.

Award: Defensive Player of the Year
NBA Favorite: Ron Artest
Pacer with best chance: Ron Artest
Likelihood of a Pacer winning the award: 60%

This Award looks to be a three horse race between Ben Wallace of the Detroit Pistons, Andrei Kirilenko of the Utah Jazz, and Ron Artest. Wallace is looking to defend his title as the league’s top defender for the third straight year, and is putting up another stellar season. Wallace is averaging 3.1 blocks and 1.7 steals per contest, which is similar to his production during his past two seasons. Kirilenko is also putting together a terrific season, ranking 3rd in both blocks (2.9) and steals (2.1). While Artest isn’t putting up quite the numbers these other two are, although he is second in the NBA in steals, his ability to shut down opposing players is unparalleled, and that is why he is the favorite to win, as long as he stays out of trouble.

Award: 6th Man of the Year
NBA Favorite: Al Harrington
Pacer with best chance: Al Harrington
Likelihood of a Pacer winning the award: 50%

Al Harrington is playing more minutes (31 per game) than any other bench player in the league. During that time he is averaging 12.9 points and 6.7 rebounds per game, all while playing amazing defense. Only Dallas forward Antawn Jamison, with the exception of the defense part, can rival those numbers. Jamison is averaging 15.8 points and 6.4 rebounds per game in 30 minutes, but the likelihood that Jamison will be traded leaves Baby Al as the favorite. Other candidates include Desmond Mason, Earl Boykins, Brian Cardinal, and Bobby Jackson.

Weekly Predictions

Season Total: 27-6
Last Week: 3-0

@. Atlanta: Atlanta continues has underachieved all season. I don’t see any reason why they would stop now.Pacers by 8.

VS. Detroit: Both teams are hot and if the Pacers want to create some distance in the Division then they need to win this game. Pacers by 3.

VS. Houston: Look for the Pacers to complete their sweep of Houston this season. Pacers by 6.

@. Washington: Washington matches up very well with the Pacers… when Jerry Stackhouse and Gilbert Arenas are healthy. Unfortunately they aren’t. Pacers by 9.

01-19-2004, 11:05 AM
That's HOOPSWORLD, not Hoopshype. Two different animals. :)

01-19-2004, 11:14 AM