Odd Thoughts from the grave?(or home opener)
Written by Peck
As Ash said in Army of Darkness ďBuckle up Bonehead. ‘Cause you’re goin’ for a ride!Ē
The Pacers brought a little Halloween treat to the fans at the fieldhouse Saturday night and left the Philadelphia 76ers looking like the zombies from Night of the Living Dead. No Doug Collins that was not Frankensteinís monster that was Tyler Hansbrough.
So in honor of Halloween I give you the ghoulish version of Odd Thoughts.
Darren Collison took no time at all in introducing himself to the fans of Indiana. He began the night by harassing Holliday and knocking the ball loose 2 of the first 3 trips down the court and ended the night with 4 steals several deflections and one monstrous thundering one handed dunk that came out of nowhere and left me stunned in my seat. In all honesty I had no idea the little fella had that in him and was amazed he could not only get up there and dunk it one handed but do it with a defender running right at him.
It became obvious early that he was going to have a running interaction with the fans and he became very popular very quickly. His defense was much better than it was vs. the Bobcats however on occasion he still tends to ball gawk when his man doesnít have the ball. But overall he was superb and he definitely controls the tempo of the game when he is on the court. I hope that he stays happy in our offense but I do worry that his drop in assist numbers will impact how people around the NBA view him thinking that he is not doing something right and not realizing that our system is not set up for our point guards to get a lot of assists.
Speaking of treats (ok I wasnít speaking of treats but hey itís Halloween so sue me) Josh McRoberts provided the second treat dunk of the night. His one handed facial on Evan Turner pretty much set the Rookie back 20 games and he may wake up in the middle of the night screaming. I am beginning to think Josh needs to start naming his dunks ala Chocolate Thunder Darryl Dawkins. If nothing else on this dunk he should have yelled ďto infinity and beyondĒ.
Josh gave us another solid effort giving us 9 points to go along with 9 rebounds. He did have his shot blocked several times tonight but he was always on the floor going after loose balls, providing tough defense and blocking a shot. But the biggest treat of the night from Josh (well at least for me anyway) was that he is not Troy Murphy.
I canít tell you how much this one single change in our team has meant. Donít get me wrong other players have improved, Collision has been a great addition and looks like he can be the long term solution at the point guard spot but just changing the power forward position to a player who never quits on defense, always is going after loose balls and is willing to give up his body for a charge or in the post has completely changed the entire look and overall performance of our team. Roy no longer gets fouls because he has to cover both sides of the lane. Danny no longer has to worry about being moved into the 4 spot to have to sumo wrestle with large power forwards because we are no longer tempted to ďgo smallĒ and play a primarily perimeter based big man.
I am certain that Doug Collins was on the phone immediately after the game with the league office asking why they brought in officials from the ACC to work the game, well Iím certain at least it felt that way to him.
Tyler comes in, foul Philadelphia. Tyler takes a one handed throw it up from the hip shot from the corner that has no business going in but does, foul Philadelphia. If Tyler wasnít Frankensteinís monster he might very well have been some demon from the pit coming to steal Phillyís very basketball soul and believe me once he gets two hands on it nobody was going to get it back.
The only thing I really want to know is what flavor of power thirst that Tyler drinks before coming into a game?
I now want to provide a public service announcement on behalf of your Indiana Pacers.
We traded Jermaine OíNeal for Roy Hibbert.
Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha haha
Sorry lost myself for a moment. We also got T.J. Ford in the deal and while it hasnít worked out the best for either the team or T.J. the past couple of seasons so far this year not only has he been a part of the club he has actually been a big part of our two wins providing leadership on the bench and to Darren Collison as well as solid on floor production.
But the lynch pin of that trade, for us anyway, was Roy Hibbert. A player who so far has only dedicated himself to improving every aspect of his game and who is proving that while not a top tier center in the NBA (yet) he is at the very top of the 2nd tier and if he continues to work and improve I have no doubt that he will rocket himself up to the top rung. Heck he may very well do it by the middle or end of this season; itís not out of the question.
He was just killing Spencer Hawes early in the game so to combat that Collins followed Larry Browns plan from the night before and brought in a quicker player and they attempted to keep the Pacers from getting Roy the ball in the post. That worked for about a quarter and a half but by the end it didnít matter Roy was just going and getting the ball himself.
I see that several people are now calling him the face of the franchise and I understand that he is popular (for good reason) with the fans but till proven otherwise there is still another player who holds the title franchise player and tonight like he has in the previous 2 games he has shown us why.
Danny Granger has been balling these three games and by balling I mean really actually playing basketball on both sides of the floor. He has gone back to guarding the best perimeter player on the opposing team and has been making effort to get down too rebound. He has also cut way back on the three point shooting showing that he is one of the best mid range shooters in the game and pulling out a Dr. J type under the board reverse shot tonight that drew an and 1 then immediately ran to the crowd in the corner to celebrate with them.
BTW would it be in bad taste to see if we could get a canned voice of Tinsley yelling ďand 1 mother****erĒ? Iím sure it would be but dang that could be funny at the right time. Well that and a video of him holding a dust pan, but I digress.
It wasnít all pleasant during the game though. Once again OíBrien brought in the same squad that gave us that collapse in San Antonio on opening night and once again they took a lead and turned it into a deficit. However the difference this time was that he didnít go back to them and he didnít stick with them. In fact after an abysmal performance both Solomon Jones & James Posey were never seen or heard from again (Iíll just assume that the Blair Witch got them in keeping with todayís Halloween theme)
Overall this was a great opening night especially in contrast to last seasons butchering at the hands of the Heat. I know we have started off recent seasons with a decent record I want to say though that this has a different vibe to it. Look I donítí mean to keep coming back to this over & over (well actually yes I do) but the subtraction of Troy Murphy from our lineup makes us so much more enjoyable to watch for me and the fact that both Tyler & Josh are bangers (Tyler being a literal brute) makes me giddy with joy. We are no longer the pushovers of the NBA. Teams will know when they walk off of the floor that they have been in a fight and I for one say itís about time.
Look letís be realistic here, we havenít beaten the Lakers or Celtics or even the new all mighty Heat. But we have now beaten two teams we needed to beat and almost beat a team that we probably had no business beating (yes if it wasnít for that collapse I think we could have pulled that out).
In other words we have played 12 quarters of basketball and by my account we have won 10 of the 12 quarters and actually looked good in 11 of the 12 (that one quarter in San Antonio was just brutal).
Some of that is great play, some of it is team chemistry and yes some of it comes from coaching. Letís be honest & give credit where credit is due here, he didnít have to stick with Tyler. He could have easily just said he isnít ready and used Posey all of those minutes. He could be using Danny at the 4 or God forbid Posey at the 5. But so far he hasnít. We have made an effort to get the ball inside, we donít shoot as many threeís as we have in the past and our defense when it works actually works quite well. So, so far, it would be really hard to gripe too much about him and in fact there is more to compliment than complain about.
But the season is still early.
Now onto the city of brotherly love for round 2.