Earlier today I sat down & wrote a long reply to the question about whether the Pacers were overachieving. For reasons beyond my control I had to leave before posting it & somebody else dumped it.
However this is as good a place as any to put in to brief thoughts about that. You do NOT win this many games in a row/play this good for this long/get lucky or whatever you wanna call it without a basic foundation being there.
Defense my friends. Defense the likes of which we have not seen played by this team since last year on the perimeter & post defense like we have not seen since 2000.
Let's take a quick poll. 2-3 months ago if the Pacers were in a close game but were down & needed to catch up how many of us would beleive (& I mean truely believe) that we would do it?
Now how many of you feel today that if we are down 3-6 points with a min. & a half to play we are still in the game?
I won't lie, on the first question I was pretty much taking comfort that we were just close because of the seasons turmoils.
Now I believe.
God help me I believe. I am not hoping to make the playoffs now, I'm expecting to compete in the playoffs.
Just like that team early in the season that filled in after the suspensions I could sink my teeth into them because I understood them, I recognized them & to be frank I just enjoyed them.
I have that feeling everytime we tip off now. It's not just because we are winning (although that does help) it's because of how we are winning.
Yes, we are depending way to much on jump shots. But you play the hand that is delt you.
It's not our offense that is winning right now anyway. It's the suffocating defense that we are laying down on the floor. What I love about it is that the defense is contagous. When our starters go to the bench the reserves actually sometimes pick up the pace. We are physical. Teams do NOT push us around anymore & if they do play physical with us we don't have players on the floor standing around complaining to the refs. We just soldier through. We are rebounding. I don't know what it is since Dale has come on board but I bet very few teams have outrebounded us.
This team has a very similar feel to the 93/94 team that I loved so much.
Anthony Johnson = Haywood Workman
Reggie Miller = Reggie Miller
Stephen Jackson > Satan
Dale Davis = Dale Davis
Scott Pollard/Austin Croshere/Jeff Foster = Rik Smits
I love this team. I am proud of this team. No matter how the season ends our heads should be held high because this team has done this state proud.
That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.
Onto the game.
Yes, it's easy to set back & say N.Y. is a mess. But this same mess beat the crap out of us not to long ago. They played a differant Pacers team tonight & they were found wanting.
Scott Pollard was just fabulous. He was everywhere. He put a body on the Knicks & his defense was troublesome for the Knicks. This was the player we all thought we were getting & I have no problem with him starting the rest of the year. Or I have no real problem with him coming off of the bench either but the guy deserves to play.
Jax was out of his mind good. His drives were just breathtaking. I know a lot of you loved his three's & believe me when he hit them I loved them to. But his moves to the basket is what changed the game. His defense was decent as well. Thomas often out muscled him but Jax held his own for the most part.
Eddie Gill was great on Marburry & helped stop some of his penatration. The fact that Stephon had to worry about # 32 helped as well because there were at least three times I saw that he altered his shot & missed layups that he normally would make. Sorry, slipped back into Dale fan mode for a min. Eddy actually passed the ball well for a change also.
I know this next part is sacralige & God knows I am not happy to say this but has anybody really missed Jamaal Tinsley the last few games? Not because we don't need him, cause we do, but A.J. has just played that well. I've always been one of his bigger fans on here because I always thought for a backup p.g. he was almost perfect, but I never considered him starting material. Right now he is playing as well as almost any starting point guard as most in the N.B.A. I'm not saying he is the best, but he has been damn good & not just because he is hitting his shots (which really helps) but he has actually been running the offense very very well.
Jeff Foster is one hell of a backup center. Starting next to Dale he was great as well, but next to J.O. I never liked him. But he is probably one of the (if not the) best backup centers in the NBA. Is it just my imagination or has he been playing more physical since Dale has arrived? Yea, yea I know I'm nuts so let's forget I asked that.
There were really no goats on our team last night. James Jones had some foul trouble but honestly I thought they were bogus calls. I liked his aggresiveness on defense. Austin didn't do jack squat on offense but he did hit the boards fairly well & did a decent job of cutting off the lanes.
Can't end without talking about Reggie.
His last made basket in the Garden was from what? 25-30' out. Unreal.
He was forcing it a little to much early on but eventually smoothed out as the game went on.
Reggie in the Garden will always be a memory that I can take to my grave. I remember virtually every playoff series vs. them (yes even before 94) & Reggie certainly has had a large impact on these events.
Hugging Spike at the end pretty much said it all.
BTW, from reading what NJPacergirl said it sounds like it was mostly Pacers fans that were chanting R-E-G-G-I-E at the end.
I don't know how to feel about that to be honest. Part of me wants that to be Pacers fans & then part of me wants that to be some Knicks fans as well.
Although I will state again that I am deeply ashamed as a Pacers fan that when Pat Ewing was retiring that we did not at least give the man the standing ovation he desereved. Sadly most of the jackasses in the fieldhouse booed the man
Either way there certainly is emotion in the air about N.Y. & Reggie, but to be honest just like Reggie said the day that Ewing left the true rivalry ended.
Now it's home to the Cavs. tommorow.
I'm reminded of a quote from that great philosopher "Conan the Barbarian".
In the future no one will remember if we were good men or bad, all that they will remember is that few stood against many.
Think about everything we have had to overcome this year (yes a lot of it brought on by ourselves but not all) & look at where we are.