Well, to be honest, when Detroit started trimming the lead down as we approached halftime I figured they were going to ride the crowd to the energy needed to win this one. Especially with Tinsley out.
Let's not fool ourselves. If, at the beginning of the season, someone had said "over sixty wins and the ECF, bay-bee", we'd have probably said "nice dream" and continued talking about making 50 and getting to the second round. In fact, I think that's what we did.
Yes, we came up short, through a combination of too old, too young, and too injured. But the ride was a lot farther than most expected, and it was done using an amount of heart and desire that we haven't seen from a Pacer team in quite some time.
- anyone who wants to get rid of Artest is insane. We should be building on Ron and JO as the future of the franchise. Of anyone on the court, Ronnie was the one willing to step up and at least try to put the team on his shoulders. The rest is playoff experience.
- anyone who wants to get rid of Rick is insane. There is no question that he coached differently in the playoffs than the regular season, and there is no question that he coached differently than he did in the playoffs with the Pistons. He is also maturing as a playoff coach, and I really think he takes this team even farther in the next two years.
- anyone who thinks Brad Miller was the single missing piece is insane. In this series (and almost in the Heat series) we were beaten by guards, not by front line play. Brad would have made our front court different, but not necessarily better. I think Ron doesn't come forward as an offensive weapon if Brad is on the floor, we certainly don't control the boards as well, and we once again have too many chiefs and not enough indians in the PF/C playing rotation. We Need RolePlayers.
- anyone who thinks we should stand pat at guard is insane. Tinsley showed a lot this year, but we were too weak behind him, though I have to give AJ his props for really stepping up in this series. Reggie - I love Reggie, but he was unable for whatever reason to do what he needed to do. His leadership is probably one of the most important things that got the team this far - but his playing is one of the things that kept us from going farther.
My primary goal for the summer would be to get a scorer onto the team. Not necessarily a superstar like a TMac (can't you see him fighting JO and Ron for the spotlight? No, TMac is going to the Knicks) but someone who can consistently score in whatever way is necessary - penetration, mid-range jumper, long ball, whatever. We've had individuals that did well in each spot, but we've never really had an all-around threat.
My secondary goal is at point. I think Tinsley (when healthy) is ready to take the next step up, but we have to have a backup (or 2) who are only slightly below him in caliber of play. This will be very tough, and frankly I don't have any names to put forward.
Expect Al to be gone, possibly Croshere as well. It takes good players to get good players, and no one is going to trade us value for scrubs.
I wish this year could have been different. But oh, what an unexpected and wonderful ride it was - and oh, what a future we have.