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The Pacers win their fist preseason game against a poor Wolves team. Minnesota is trying to win as many preseason games as they can because they know once the regular season starts they will not be winning very often. Through the first three games the Pacers were 0-3 and the Wolves 3-0. Not because Minnesota has a better team but because they are in win now mode. They are feeling the backlash from their fans because they are a poorly ran franchise that can never get over the fact that the Lakers should be their team.
Jim O'Brien is also fealing the pressure. After tinkering with the lineups in the second half of the first three games with horrible results he's had shore up the rotations so the novice fans will stop bickering. After three meaningless preseason games he's had to stop experimenting with the lineups and stop trying to develop the end of the bench.
Indiana has not had a coach for more than four years since Slick Leonard's twelve year stint ended in 1980. We were a poorly ran francise untill Donnie Walsh came in the mid 80's. In the early 90's we had a playoff team but couldn't convince a good coach to come hear till Lary Brown in the mid 90's. That's when things took off.
We had a nice run that ended in going to the Finals in 2000. Then we make some trades that bring us Jermaine O'neal, Ron Artest and Brad Miller and we make another playoff run. Making the playoffs for 16 out of 17 years has spoiled the fans. The novice fans need to appreciate how hard it is to build a playoff team.
Jim O'Brien has been criticized too harshly by some short sighted fans. We need to realize that we are still in transition and are rebuilding on the fly. We should be happy that Larry Bird talked Jim O'Brien in coming here and that we don't have a rookie coach to go along with our young roster.
It's been a shock to our system that we've gone from a half court team to a running team but we don't have Rik Smits and Jermaine O'neal in the post commanding double teams. Roy Hibbert is trying to be our man in the post but is still young, awkward and still learning but has a work ethic that gives us confidence that he'll succeed. Don't forget that it took Rik Smits and Jermaine O'neal some to get it going.
Larry Bird has took some unfair criticism also. The biggest blemish on his record is drafting Shawne Williams 17th in 2006 but look at his contemporaries. Twelve through twenty look like this: Hilton Armstrong, Thabo Sefolosha, Ronnie Brewer, Cedric Simmons, Rodney Carney, Shawne Williams, Oleksiy Pecherov, Quincy Douby, Renaldo Balkman. To be fair Donnie Walsh was in charge until april 2008.
The Pacers have turned Jermaine O'neal, Troy Murphy and Shawne Williams into Roy Hibbert, Josh McRoberts, T.J. Ford, Darren Collison and Magnum Rolle. They have drafted Danny Granger, Brandon Rush, Tyler Hansbrough and Paul George in the first round being 17, 13, 13, 10 and have had two second round steals in A.J. Price and Lance Stephenson. The last time we've had a second round steal was Antonio Davis in 1990.
Larry Bird's three year plan is looking good. After this year when we will have some cap space to hopefully bring in a nice veteran in a slim class of free agents and have another chance to draft between 17 and 10. We will finally have the roster that we can be proud of for many years.
These last few years have been frustrating and in alot of ways mirror the late 80's. We should be thankful that we've bottomed out at only 32 wins. Do you remember the four strait 20 win seasons we had in the early to mid 80's. That monumental failure set up the success in the 90's.
The Pacers have spoiled us. Who else could build a team without any top 9 picks. It's been 20 years since we've had a season so bad. How many teams can say that?
We were 27th in the league in attendence last year. The Colts are bringing in 50,000+ fans every game but do you think once Manning retires the fans will be patient while they get another quarterback?
In 1985 the year of the first lottery many fans jumped on the bandwagon when we got the second pick and were rewarded in the 90's. By the mid 90's it was hard to get a good seat. People need to reserve there seats now because conventual wisdom will tell you that starting next year good seats will be getting harder to come by.
Let's not be novice short sighted spoiled fans. Let's enjoy the run the Pacers are about to make and appreciate the hard work this organization has done.
Me and my fellow area 55ers will see you at the game. Go Pacers!