I've been on here since the game ended but I just didn't know what to say. I want to be objective about the entire process & not let emotions take over for me.
I won't deny it, it was a rough night. I'll be honest with you & I'm sure some of you that read my posts yesterday already figured this out, but I had already come to the conclusion that last nights game was a loss. I thought with J.T. & J.O. both on bad legs & with R.A. having whatever it was he had I just thought to myself that there was just no way we could do this. So I came into the game subdued & almost content on the fact that we had a good season. Then we started to hit our shots, then we developed a lead.
Great, just when I was ready to concede they get me to thinking that they might actually pull this game out. Then over a series of events, which I'm sure I'll cover at some point in time, we lost.
It just wasn't meant to be. I wish I could tell you I wasn't bitter because I am, a little. Don't get me wrong I don't feel as though the N.B.A. screwed us or the refs. were to blame I just can't help hating the feeling of "what if". J.T. is so important to our offense that it cannot even be told in words how bad we stagnate on the offensive side when he is not in & vs. a team like Detroit, you have to be able to get your shots because they are going to give you nothing easy. What if J.O. were 100%?
But let's get this started right.
To the fans of Detroit basketball. Congratulations on winning a fine series. My point above about injury's in no way is intended to disrespect your franchise. Even if all of our players were 100% there is nothing that say's the outcome would be any differant.
You have a fine team, magnificant coach & superb G.M. I wish you all of the luck in the world vs. the Lakers & I honestly hope you bring home the gold to the east. You actually have some of the required players to compete with L.A. & if I were you I wouldn't be afraid to give Prince some time going at Braynt. It won't be easy & to be honest if Shaq decides he wants this title your chances go way way down, but you guys have a shot.
The nice thing for you (& the sucky thing for us) is that this season is in now way the end for you guys. They talk about us being young all of the time but in reality you don't have a lot of geriatrics up thier either & even if you did Joe D. will not stand pat.
So, to the victor goes the spoils. Good series & I hope we redue this next season (ultimately with a differant result from my point of view though).
Now to us.
I will come back & do a season post mortum later in the week or maybe next week I'm not sure which yet, but for now I just am gonna talk about this series.
We might as well deal with the big topic right up front. Ron Artest & his flagrant foul.
Did this play cost us the game? It did cost us the lead but the game? I don't think so. Was it a bonehead move? Yes. But it was not the worst thing I've ever seen either. Rip admitted after the game that he laid there & was told to stay there by his team mates. He said he could have easily have gotten up. But we come from a team that has Reggie Miller on it, so to complain about a little bit of theatre for affect seems hypocritical to me. Anyway back to the play, I think Ron thought he would just be called for a foul not a flagrant foul, which IMO is what it should have been. But this is Ron Artest here, so for him to think that was just dumb.
Like I said I didn't have a problem with him doing that per say. I don't like the fact he did it but I'm not calling for his head because of it.
On the other hand did anybody see his post game locker room comments on WTHR? Ron's biggest concern was not his inability to hit a shot or his inability to actually shut down Hamilton. It was the fact that he didn't like that we didn't get him the ball enough. He couldn't understand why in this series we went away from him, unlike the Boston & Miami series.
The guy got 13 shots up, second most on the team, & he was pissed about it.
Sorry, but team ball isn't exactly Ron's strong suit. There was something up with Ron & has been since this series started. Put me down in the camp of people who wouldn't be suprised by anything that happens here with him. I could easily see him coming back here next year as though nothing happened & I also wouldn't be a bit suprised to see him playing on another team next year.
I have always thought Ron was a little to much high maintenance for Donnies taste, but I've been wrong before. BTW, just for future answers to this question let me state now this. I believe that Larry Bird can make trades, he can affect player decisions & coaching decisions. However I believe he has to run it all past Walsh, who IMO, has final veto power. I also believe that Donnie can initiate any change he wants to as well, but he would make Bird aware of anything he was doing.
I don't believe Bird is just a figurehead, but I do believe that he is still on probation (for lack of a better word) & that Donnie is looking over his shoulder just to make sure he doesn't screw things up.
Good or bad, only time will tell.
Also I think Ron really overlooked Prince & overestimated how much he would dominate the game.
Reggie. What can you say. How do you tell Superman he can't fly anymore? How do you tell Spiderman he can't swing anymore? How do you tell Reggie that he just doesn't deserve to start anymore or for that matter deserve large amounts of time on the floor anymore?
I don't think Reggie has to retire, in fact I don't think he will. But we have to move on & let somebody else play the spot. It was so sad to see Brown abuse Reggie last night. Whoever Reggie was guarding was the player they ran their offense threw. It's happened all season long like this. I remember a really bad game early on vs. the Cavs. that it was really evident that this was the plan.
Being a decoy on offense is not enough. You cannot have 3 of your 5 positions on the floor just throwing the ball around. They have to be able to step up & score. Reggie still can on occasion, but not on a nightly basis. I wouldn't be opposed to seeing Reggie be the 7th or 8th man next year but I don't want much more than that from him. But here is the rub. Are the fans ready to give up on this? I tell you there are a lot of Pacers fans out there that would not want this to happen, they want 31 on the floor as a starter till the day he hangs them up. Is the franchise ready for this? I've been told that Donnie doesn't care one way or another, but I just have a hard time accepting that there isn't some form of coperate mentality at work to make sure Reggie is still the starter. It may not be Donnie & it may not even exist for fact but I find it hard to beleive.
Is Reggie willing to do this? I'm not sure he is. He says the right things about this being the younger players team, but that is easy to say when the younger players hold him in such high esteem. If they were players who didn't give a crap about him & didn't always say how great he is I wonder how willing he would be? That last contract he signed tells me he still thinks he is owed.
Sorry guys I got off on a tangent there, I didn't mean to go in depth about next season.
Back to Reggie. We won game one because of a huge shot from Reggie but in game six for him to go 2-8 with 7 of his 8 shot being from behind the three point line is just unacceptable. Now if he were a defensive stud that would be one thing, but the reason Hamilton had all of that energy for his offense is because he really never had to worry about spending it on the defensive end of the floor. Reggie should have driven a lot more than he did. He should never have settled for the three like he always does.
J.O. Warrior. It's as simple as that & let me tell you that is one hell of a compliment.
Austin Croshere. He somewhat made up for that horrid game 5. He will be here next year, you all know that right? I mean nobody is going to take this guy off of our hands unless it's part of a larger trade. Now having said that I want to say this. I don't think it's altogether a bad thing that he will be here. 12 pts. & 7 rbs. is not bad for a backup. Plus I wasn't displeased with the way he played R. Wallace. Sheed got his points but it wasn't because Austin wasn't there. I want Austin in the off-season to just keep hitting the weights. Unless we get a better center, which we won't, I think there is still a chance that Austin can play even more min. next year.
Al Harrington. It's to bad really. Al had been such a Warrior throughout this series & to see him go out on a game like that is sad. That blocked shot by Prince was probably a game breaker for us. I just wish the guy could have been more aggresive last night, but like I've always said Al is a differant player when he starts. He tries harder to fit into the team concept. Sometimes it works, last night it didn't. But I thought Al was really the most consistant player throughout this series, not including last night of course.
Jamaal. One hell of a season. First can't get of the the bench to save his life. Then ends season on a tear of his hamstring. We just are not the same without him on the floor. The only thing I think he needs to work on is getting healthy.
Anthony Johnson. Played great in this series, much to my suprise. Our offense didn't stagnate because of him this series. It was stagnant but it wasn't his fault. I thought his defense was solid as well. However that missed layup at the end of the game was the single worst shot I've ever seen in my life. Airball a layup???? Being a guard??? A.J. is what A.J. is & in this series he did his job. I'd like to see something better next year but if not I have no real problem with him.
Jeff Foster. This has to suck for him. The only consolation I take away from that though is that the last 4 years have been equally as bad for Croshere. So I guess it's almost karma that it was Austin that replaced him. He had a decent series up until he was benched, but it just wasn't enough. If he wants to be a big part of this team, which we all expect he will, he has to develop some form of offense this off-season. If it's a jumper, a hook, a post move, something, anything. Defense wins titles without a doubt & I will live & die by Pat Riley's mantra of "no rebounds, no rings". But you cannot be devoid of any offensive game. Ultimately the game still falls down to one principle, putting the round brown thing into the baket more times than your opponet. Yes, you can do this by stopping the shots they get, but ultimatley you have to put it in yourself & it cannot always be left up to two people on the floor to do it.
Bender. Year 5 & we still are left with the following statement. We'll really start to see Jon get better & mature as a player next season when he is fully healthy. Yes, Jon has athletic ability. Yes, Jon has some talent. But at this point in time Jon still has no basketball I.Q. I wouldn't be offended at all if Jon were wearing another uniform next season. I don't know how many more "He's showing signs of progress" seasons I can take. I wouldn't be upset if he was here either.
Sorry, I did it again I'm talking about the future.
Did Jon do anything to help the team last night? Yes, his blocks were nice. But did it change the game in any way? Where was his offense? Not really a series worth remembering for Bender, IMO.
Kenny Anderson. I know a lot of people are pissed at him, & with good reason. But he was only stating the truth. It was poor damn timing to say the least, but I understand why he said what he said. Now to the game, he was useless. It's a little unfair seeing as how he hadn't played hardly at all prior to this. But ultimately that is the job of the bench player, to be ready at any thime. He wasn't.
Scott Pollard. I have no idea how to evaluate him for the Pistons series, he didn't play. Which in & of itself says something.
The coach. I can't complain. Adjustments were needed & they were made. Brown made more adjustments & Carlisle countered with more adjustments of his own. L.B. was just coaching a more experianced team & besides it's hard to ***** when you are beat by the master. I think Rick had a great series.
There is a lot to talk about for the upcoming off-season. But for now I just think it's important to say that the 03/04 Pacers season was fun & although we didn't win a title I was very proud of the team.