I knew going into the year that this would be a struggle to make the playoffs. I think I predicted either 36 or 38 wins however I said that I was optimistic that the team would be better although the record would not indicate it.
I was wrong on both counts apparently.
Never in my worst pessimistic view did I think that we would be as bad as we are right now. In fact truth be told we are worse than our record indicates because if you throw out that five game win streak we have won 4 games.
However the five games count so we are a much superior 9 games.
I said on my twitter account the other night and I will repeat it here.
This goes beyond coaching, this goes beyond the players.
This franchise right now has a losing mentality and there are times we are beaten before we touch the floor. Dahntay Jones talked about this a little tonight with Mike Wells after the game and I think there is a LOT to what he is saying.
I know it is cliché' but winning begets winning and losing begets losing. Right now the Pacers do NOT believe that they can win games.
Why is the only real question?
It has been said that this may be the least talented team in the NBA and that may or may not be true. But there is enough talent on the floor night in and night out that they should not be embarrassing themselves the way they have the last two games and frankly for most of the games this season.
I'm open to about any reason at this point in time. I think there is a coaching issue, I think there is a talent issue and now honestly I am concluding that there is also a front office issue as well.
Pick you poison and most likely you will at least be partially right.
I want to take a min. to talk about a coaching change. Not because I am advocating it but because I want to talk about something that I have heard said in person and I've read here a couple of times.
The fear is that firing O'Brien will not only not help the club but it will end any and all hopes for this season.
Well right now I think it's pretty safe to say that barring some form of miracle this season is toast and sadly has been since about the second week of November. Yes, I know it is too early to write off the club but let's not kid ourselves here.
Anyway I want to address the fear that firing O'Brien will do no good.
For arguments sake here let's assume that management has decided that there has to be a coaching change.
Whoever takes over the club if they are instructed to change the entire structure of the team I do not see that as being a bad thing.
By that I mean if they just tell the person refocus the club on man to man defense, a more structured offense and for Gods sake remove players from the lineup if they are not defending at the level we expect from them.
Then I do not see that as being something harmful to the club. In fact with certain players I think this needs to be done. Hell in fact I think this needs to be done period.
Ok, the more I've sit here and typed this the more I am convinced that a change needs to be made. I did not intend to go in this direction in fact I wanted to make it a point to say that I don't think O'Brien is the fault for what is happening now.
I still do NOT fault him for everything that is going on. But the more I type this the less I feel inclined to defend him and in fact I somewhat feel like there are issues that directly attributed to decisions he has made.
Oh well, I'll talk myself down off of the ledge with him for the moment because for whatever reason I just don't have faith that he is going to be gone anytime soon.
BTW, if you read today's paper you will see that he is not happy again with his starting lineup. We don't have enough speed out there according to him.
Why is it I have a feeling that this is code for "I really don't like Roy Hibbert". I would not be surprised to see Roy on the bench with Tyler and Troy starting.
Now I'm conflicted here because on the one hand I want to see more of Tyler, however Jim's lack of patience with Roy yet he never flinching love of Murphy makes me want to scream.
Yes, Roy has problems. If he wants to bench him I can't argue. I would argue that I think a lot of Roy's problems are from the coaching position but I digress.
However the fact that he somehow can't see a problem with Troy is not only unfair, well frankly it's just bad coaching.
Ok, now not only am I jumping off the edge about O'Brien I want to take Murphy along with me.
What is our record with and without him again?
Alright to be fair this goes beyond him, however it struck me today while I was talking with Diamond Dave that Troy Murphy has somewhat of a Jermaine O’Neal affect on the team. Now don't get me wrong Troy from what I can tell is not demanding his touches or anything but we have to alter both our offense and our defense to accommodate him on the floor. So other players may be suffering because they are being asked to either pick up the slack on defense or to play somewhat out of position on offense.
Again that was not my intention coming into this so I think I will stop now.
Like I said above there is blame to go around so I will stop picking on both of them.
Let me talk about Mike for a min.
I truly believe that this is fatigue, however during the Atlanta game I saw something that I did not like and commented to DD after the game.
Mike seemed to be wagging the finger a lot at all of the players that night, telling them they missed cuts or assigned spots on the floor.
Now to be fair as was pointed out to me Mike is a team elected Co-Captain so maybe it is his job to get on people. However when you are stinking up the floor (and I'm not talking about missing shots here) then I am pretty sure the old saying "three fingers point back at me" applies here. I don't care that Mike is missing shots because I believe that is from fatigue from his legs. But some of the turnovers and careless play can not be attributed to being tired.
However if Mike has hit the wall it really might be a good idea to limit his time on the floor again.
I think the thing that has me down the most now is not the here and now, but I am now questioning the plan.
I had myself convinced that the goal was to get through this year and next season all of these contracts are expiring contracts so in fact we can start dealing them this summer.
Now I am under the impression that we might do that for one or two of the contracts but they are really wanting to let most of it walk away.
That takes my faith in this down more than I can say. So the question is when this is all said and done what are we hoping to come away with?
I just don't see adding a couple of more low level free agents as being the answer to anything. I thought we were going to try and pull off a trade for a good player but now I wonder if we have the horses to even do that.
Now we come to the part that I am at the very minimum perplexed by Bird and at the worst have my faith shaken to the core.
It is just obvious to me that the players and the coach do not mesh. The talent that we brought in is not the talent he values and thus the style of play we have is a mess.
I'm not trying to defend O'Brien here much but I think it's safe to say that Bird and the entire world knew the style of play that Jim wants to run. Yes I know you build your team as though it didn't matter who the coach is but then for the love of God why would you go out and extend the coach when you had to at least have the feeling that they style and the players were not going to mesh.
Unless, as I fear, there is literally nothing going to be done here.
I was talking with BillS about fan base and I think this may be to the point that even he has to admit that the fans that are there are the fans that are going to be there for the foreseeable future. So maybe Bird and Co. have decided that we are going to be there no matter what so there will be nothing done other than lineup changes.
You know I have typed all of this and basically I could have just said "I have no real idea what is wrong here" and been done with it. I mean I have thoughts and suspicions but even I am not so stubborn as to think that I know for fact what is wrong. I don't.
To quote the great general from War Games "I would p!ss on a sparkplug if I thought it would help". Right now that seems about as apt as anything else I would think of.
However let me go on record right now as to say this.
I am not for tanking. I am never for tanking.
But at this point in time I can think of nothing worse than going on some late season surge where we somehow get back to the 9th spot.
Sadly we need an infusion of talent and while I would like to make trades to do some of this getting a top 10 player would certainly help the overall talent quota for the team as well.
This is sad really. I hate the fact that I have written off the season. I don't want to, really I don't. But the sad truth is this team is on a treadmill to nowhere and I don't see it ending anytime soon.
God is there anything positive I can say tonight?
I guess it is nice to see Tyler get extended min. on the floor and too finally see Head get some burn.