Bob is all sunshine and roses in this playoff coverage. TV locally may not be getting on it enough but at least the star has done a good job with this series.
The last time the Indiana Pacers were in the playoffs, and that would be the 2005-06 season for you amnesiacs, the team and its scandal-weary fans were eager for the season to end. Nobody liked that team, and nobody on that team liked one another. After a Game 6 home loss to the New Jersey Nets, we were all ready to pack up and go on vacation.
"I think the culture has to change," former point guard Anthony Johnson said that night.
This time, we're not ready for it to end. This time, the Pacers have a team worth supporting and celebrating, a team growing by the day. This time, we don't want to see them run out of time, not when things are just starting to get interesting.
Conventional wisdom says the Chicago Bulls end this series tonight, but I've been employing conventional wisdom throughout this matchup, and it hasn't worked for me yet. My pre-series prediction was Bulls in five, but this isn't the kind of Bulls-in-five any of us expected.
In other words, it wouldn't shock me to see this series return to Conseco Fieldhouse for a Game 6.
If it ends tonight, though, I'm going to miss a bunch of things:
I'm going to miss the yapping we've been hearing from Chicago.
During and after Game 4, former Bulls Scottie Pippen and Stacey King called for their Bulls to retaliate against the Pacers for the hard fouls they've committed. "It's an eye for an eye," Pippen said.
And some of the Chicago media has walked in lockstep. One Tribune columnist wrote that Jeff Foster, who has knocked down several Bulls, graduated *** laude from "the University of Stupid." Another radio-station blogger called Foster "a hoodlum" and characterized Tyler Hansbrough as a "flailing weirdo."
Seriously, compared to the old Pistons, or the Lakers versus the Celtics during the 1980s, Pacers-Bulls is a game of checkers.
I'm going to miss interim coach Frank Vogel's news conferences.
He hasn't just been a star on the court, he has been a star off it as well. He has been equal parts Norman Vincent Peale and The Rock, pumping up his team with happy talk and daily affirmations.
He said this after Game 4:
"This is the scrappiest team I've ever seen. Not just the scrappiest team I've ever worked with or been around, but the scrappiest team ever."
He is the king of giddy overstatement, but after fired coach Jim O'Brien, that's not necessarily a bad thing. Let's face it: Obie could make you feel bad about winning the lottery.
I'll miss watching the different tactics the Pacers employ to harass Derrick Rose.
The crazy thing is, he won those first three games for the Bulls with his late-game heroics, but you look at the statistics, he has needed a ton of shots to get his numbers. They've trapped and taken the ball out of his hands. They've thrown Paul George at him. They've put Dahntay Jones in his path -- which makes me wonder why Jones didn't play in Chicago in those first two games.
I'll miss the Luv-a-Bulls.
But that's just me.
I'll miss the teeth-gnashing in the Chicago media, where every story has the same general approach: "Sure, the Bulls are winning, but why aren't they winning by more or winning more impressively? WHAT'S WRONG WITH THE BULLS!!??''
Shoot, here in Indiana, we're ready to throw the Pacers a parade for keeping it close. (Although that's going to change next year, when expectations come.)
I'll miss watching this team's remarkable and sudden growth spurt, and miss watching Vogel grow alongside it.
With each passing day, it becomes more difficult to argue that Vogel should not be the coach next year and the years beyond.
Emotionally and strategically, he has turned this team around, and he has done it in what seems like five minutes.
"Right from the beginning, we made some subtle changes those first two or three weeks, and every two days we had a fairly big change in our style or something we added," Vogel said Monday. "There was a series of small steps from the time I took over."
He was asked, was there a point when he felt like his team really got it under his tutelage?
"Maybe the New York game (a Pacers victory March 13 at Madison Square Garden that broke a six-game losing streak) where we caught ourselves," he said. "Everybody was talking about how the newness had worn off, we had lost a few in a row and people were saying now they were going back to being the same, old Pacers.
"Our guys kind of rallied around that. We beat the Knicks back-to-back, we beat the Bulls that week, and probably that's where we started to believe it was real and not just a honeymoon period."
More than anything, I'll miss basketball that matters -- more specifically, Pacers basketball that matters.
This has been a fun little ride.
And it's too soon to get off.
Bob Kravitz is a columnist for The Indianapolis Star. Call him at (317) 444-6643 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Bob on Twitter at @bkravitz.