I realize that some of you agree with this and others of you would rather watch the Shamwow infomercial than listen to Bob. However here is what he has to say.
Pacers surging; they could be sorry
It is with profound sadness and grudging admiration that I must report that the Indiana Pacers seem to be making a playoff push.
With Wednesday night's 107-99 victory over the Michael Redd-less Milwaukee Bucks, the Danny Granger-less Pacers have now won six straight at home and five of their past eight games overall. They also are looking at playing five of their final eight games before the All-Star break at home, and all of those games -- at home and on the road -- look eminently winnable.
The question that I ask -- and I ask this in the role of resident curmudgeon -- is: Is the playoff push really a good thing for this franchise?
Seriously, in the big picture, looking at the long term, what do the Pacers accomplish if they sneak into that eighth spot and then get whacked by Orlando/Cleveland/Boston in the first round of the playoffs?
It's easy to understand where the Pacers' brain trust is coming from on this, why they want to make the playoffs.
Ownership desperately wants/needs a round of playoffs because it's a nice payday. And they can use any payday they can get. The Pacers have been hemorrhaging money for three years now; witness the latest news on the team's lease situation at Conseco Fieldhouse.
Pacers president Larry Bird and coach Jim O'Brien are built to win, to win today and tomorrow, not three years from now when it's likely neither will still be here. O'Brien is playing Stephen Graham instead of Brandon Rush because today Graham gives him a better chance to win. He is playing Rasho Nesterovic instead of Roy Hibbert because today Nesterovic gives him a better chance to win.
For these players, the playoffs would be a sweet payoff. This is a good group, hard-working, likable, community-minded, and they've done a lot to help restore the Pacers' good name.
Granger should be named to the All-Star team later today. T.J. Ford, who was special Wednesday night, has put together some of his best basketball in recent games. Troy Murphy, who has had a renaissance season and is a sure-fire double-double guy every night, deserves to see the first postseason action of his career.
So what they're starting to do here in recent weeks, and what they need to continue during this pre-All-Star stretch, is absolutely laudable and admirable.
And yet . . .
There's a downside.
Doesn't this team need another shot in the NBA lottery, even if there doesn't currently appear to be a host of stars-in-the-waiting outside of Oklahoma's Blake Griffin?
These are not the young Atlanta Hawks, dipping their feet into the playoff pool for the first time last year, then emerging this next year as a formidable contender in the Eastern Conference.
The Pacers, or at least the Pacers who play, are relatively experienced and have a limited upside. Look at Wednesday's starters: Mike Dunleavy, Murphy, Jeff Foster, Jarrett Jack and Ford. How much better can they ever be?
The good thing about being in the East is you always feel like you've got a chance to make the playoffs.
The bad thing about being in the East is you always feel like you've got a chance to make the playoffs.
The East is an illusion, fool's gold, one that gives bad teams the goofy idea that if they can only claw their way into an eighth spot, they can make postseason magic like last year's Hawks.
Put it this way: If the Pacers were in the West, they'd be completely out of the playoff picture and probably would be playing Hibbert and Rush significant minutes. Instead, Hibbert gets a few minutes at the end of the first half Wednesday and Rush never gets off the bench.
We keep hearing how Rush has lost his confidence and how he's regressed; well, how do you fix that? By burying him at the end of the bench every game? If the Pacers are going to continue playing more established players in an effort to make the playoffs, why not send Rush to the NBDL team in Fort Wayne and let him restore his confidence there?
By Feb. 11, we'll know and the Pacers will know if they're a playoff team, however humble that designation may be in the East. That's when this friendly stretch of schedule ends and the teams head for the All-Star break. The second "half" of the season is better -- the Pacers play 21 of their last 36 games at home -- but it really comes down to these next 21/2 weeks.
"Is this a make-or-break portion of the schedule?'' O'Brien was asked.
"Absolutely,'' he said. ". . . Every game is vitally important, but we'll find out if we have a legitimate chance to make the playoffs by the All-Star break.''
There are two playoff spots up for grabs. Milwaukee sits at No. 7, although they've lost Redd for the rest of the season. Philadelphia is No. 8. Then there's New York, New Jersey, Charlotte, Toronto, Chicago and Indiana, all sub-.500, all within 21/2 games of the eighth spot.
The Pacers are making their push.
Is that a good thing?