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Bill Simmons Ultra Late Season Preview Talks about the Pacers.
Jim O'Brien is working some of the same magic in Indiana that he worked in Boston.
There's not much difference between No. 11 and No. 3 on this list -- the next nine teams range from "half-decent" to "pretty good." If you catch any of them on the right night, they might even look like a 50-win team. Anyway, I thought Indy would make the playoffs because of Jim O'Brien, an underrated coach who worked a borderline miracle with the '02 and '03 Celtics. Any Boston fan knew Obie would get the Pacers shooting a ton of 3s, playing defense and having fun again, but there's one difference between those teams and this particular Pacers team: Obie's key Boston players (Pierce and Walker) never missed a game, but his key Indiana players (Jamaal Tinsley and Jermaine O'Neal) have a habit of missing 20-30 percent of the season every year, and the Pacers already lost Ike Diogu and Marquis Daniels for a few weeks right as they were coming on. Bad omen. You can't predict what will happen with the Pacers unless you're betting the "over" for their games. You know, if gambling were legal.
Reason No. 12,351 why I love the NBA: Somehow, Tinsley's untradable contract still has four years and $28 million remaining on it. I think he signed that thing in 1987.
Reason No. 12,352 why I love the NBA: All the teams that stupidly passed on Danny Granger three summers ago, which was moronic at the time (check out my 2005 draft diary) and seems 10 times dumber now that he's lighting it up under Obie. Anyway, I heard a great story once about Larry Bird discussing a 2005 draft-day trade with another GM in which the Pacers would have traded down from No. 17, but when the Raptors took Joey Graham at No. 16, Bird squealed in delight and screamed, "I gotta go; we're gonna get Danny Granger!" Then he hung up on the guy.