Conrad Brunner makes several very good points. Whe people ask me why the Pacers blow so many leads, I say they do because they have so many big leads
Q. It seems endemic to the Pacers' playing style that we let go of big leads, almost as though we were allergic to them. Although we've managed to pull through on recent games, does this bode well for the playoffs? Is it overconfidence? Lack of a killer instinct? It seems to me that such complacency whenever we build big leads can result in unfavorable results against more focused teams. What is Coach (Rick) Carlisle and his team doing to address this attitude (or perceived attitude)? (From Zach in Tagaytay City, Philippines)
A. Though this question has come up quite a bit, not only this season but in recent years, the Pacers are hardly the only NBA team to deal with this issue. Yes, they have had problems maintaining big leads. But to play devil’s advocate, they have been very consistent in building them.
When you’re on the road, it is of paramount importance to announce your intentions to the home team as quickly as possible. The hardest kind of game to play, particularly on the road, is one when you fall behind early and are fighting uphill all night long. And road blowouts are exceptionally rare. This time of year, there are very few teams without supreme motivation. All four teams on the recent road trip were battling for playoff position in the Western Conference. This week’s opponents -- the Raptors, Celtics and Cavs -- all have sub-.500 records, but all are in the playoff hunt in the East. So there’s little chance anyone is going to roll over and play dead once they fall behind.
It’s not necessarily a character flaw in the Pacers when an opponent rallies; it could just be that the other team awakens and begins playing with the type of focus and intensity the Pacers displayed in building the lead. If the Pacers were blowing games, I’d be concerned. They’ve shown killer instinct when the game is on the line. When the playoffs roll around, that’s what matters most.