For a Christmas present, my girlfriend got me and her son Pacers tickets for any game we wanted. As he is a big Carmelo Anthony fan, he picked the Denver game as the one he wanted to see. Since I hadnt been to a game live all season due to my horrendous work schedule, it was nice to finally make it up to Conseco again to see my beloved Pacers. Im just now finding time to post my observations from the game for all my friends on Pacers Digest. Here is what I saw or thought about while watching the game:
-I had read on here that the Pacer fans were booing Jamal Tinsley since the night at 8 seconds, but I didnt really hear how loud it was until I was there to experience it in person. To be honest with you, I dont really know what I feel about that....I dont like Jamal as a player defensively at all, and he is taking way more shots than I like, but I still dont know if Id boo my own teams players that way. Im conflicted on that issue, but I do know now for sure that the Pacers have no choice, their fanbase is demanding that Jamal is gone, and I think he will be as soon as Larry and Donnie find a deal that doesnt completely screw us. I also wonder if the fans booing effects the play and spirit of the staff and roster.
-Its clear Indianapolis is a Colts town now. Even at the Pacers game itself, there were many more Colts jackets, hats, sweatshirts, etc etc than Pacers gear. I understand it as Im a huge Colts fan myself, but the Pacers will always be number one in my book, as I grew up that way. However, kids right now are making sports decisions that some will stick with their entire life, and I wonder if the Pacers truly realize how bad the long term damage is on their fanbase and its future with the personnel weve put on the court in the last couple of years. Clearly, something has to change in that regard before the Pacers lose too much ground in the city.
-Until I saw it live and could view the entire floor, I didnt realize what a hindrance Jeff Foster is to a teams half court offense. I admit, I have no idea as a coach how to use Jeff offensively, and neither does Rick. RC had Jeff setting a multitude of "ball screens" for Tinsley and others, and they had absolutely no effect whatsoever. His screens are poor, but more than that his man just switches on the ballhandler until the original defender can recover, and since Jeff is such a non threat there is no chance of throwing it back to Jeff and getting anything out of it. Since Jeff is a very poor away from the ball screener too, and he can't shoot, handle the ball, pass, or post up, I have no clue other than an offensive rebound what he is capable of doing to help a team play offense. Maybe somebody can coach a way to have him help us, but that person isnt me.
-Ike Diogu reminds me of a scene from the movie "major league". The scene Im thinking of is when Pedro Cerrano is killing fastballs for home runs in batting practice, and the manager says something like "this guy hits a ton, why hasnt anyone else picked him up?" Then they throw curves to him, see him swing wildly and miss, and the manager goes "oh s--t". Thats the way Ike reacts to a doubleteam in the post. As long as he draws single coverage he can play, but if he is doubled at all he isnt big enough to see over it or a good enough passer to pass out of it. He is very very raw.
-We all want Danny Granger to be a defensive stopper, but he isn't. He is an average defender at best, at least right now. Its too much for us to ask him to both guard the opponents best player and try and contribute 20 points a night. With the Pacers roster configuration he has to guard the opponents best wings, but he isnt ready for it yet. Getting a guy who can do that so Danny doesnt have to needs to be a major offseason project for the Pacers, in my judgment.
-From where I sat, I didnt think the officials were as bad as I read on here and heard from my family afterwards. I thought Jermaine flopped on the play where RC blew up and was tossed. Im not sure what happened to Darrell, but I do know he was working the official hard during the timeout instead of running back to the huddle.
-Speaking of RC and Joey Crawford, Rick clearly got tossed from that game on purpose in my view. Everyone in basketball knows Crawford is the quickest tempered official in the league, I even told my girlfriends son that before the game. RC went onto the floor after Crawford, instead of the official underneath who actually was nearer the play. I think it was a premeditaded decision to try and inspire his team, unfortunately I think the Pacers are beyond inspiration, at least for this night anyway.
-Jermaine is clearly hurting. He had no quickness or explosion, and had no legs on his jumpshot. He has such a laid back expression and method of playing, and seemed to me to lack enthusiasm. Actually, aside from Darrell Armstrong our entire team is that way. I wish we played with more enthusiasm as a group, and JO in particularly. Sometimes, I wonder if JO is just numb from all the drama and nonsense and changes the Pacers seem to keep experiencing.
-Conseco is still a wonderful place to watch a game, and I fall in love with it more each and every time I'm there. I do sometimes wonder though if its TOO nice, and lacks atmosphere inside the arena.....its easy to just get comfortable and watch the game, instead of cheering and yelling like you should be.
-Believe it or not, I think this Pacers team needs to get out of town and on the road soon. The atmosphere of the city isnt conducive to winning right now for them, and they need to get out of town away from the distractions and bond together better. Maybe the All Star break will recharge their batteries and make them come back more focused, I dont know.
-Im not panicking about this team. Through the ups and downs, we clearly remain a midlevel Eastern Conference team that is learning how to play together. We arent good enough yet to worry about a championship, we just need to continue to play and get better so we can hopefully peak in March and advance as far as we can. In the offseason, we can reevaluate our team and make decisions then. Until then, we need to all as fans quit panicking after every loss, and quit thinking we've turned the corner after every win. It's a long season fans, now is not the time to abandon ship or give up yet. I can promise you this....if we get to the playoffs healthy, there are many teams in the east who dont want to play us.
-Off season priorities: A positive force at point guard who plays defense and has leadership qualities, a defensive wing player who can start (Marquis might be the guy, but the jury is still out), and a settled roster that whoever coaches it next season can mesh together and coach it to play the right way.
As always, just my opinion.