There is a pretty good chance we lose game 6, let's just be honest, two of the 5 best players in the NBA have flipped a switch and it is going to be tough for us to counter. There are a lot of emotions flowing around this board right now, but this thread has one purpose, to try and re-orient everyone back to the median.
My simple question is this, even if we lose game 6, is there anyone on this board that can say they are unhappy with what the Pacers did this season?
I mean at the start of the year we were talking about maybe moving up to the 6th seed and if we got really lucky sneaking into the 5 seed. Instead, we finished the 3rd seed, the 5th best overall record in the NBA. The 4th best road record. Anyway you slice it, this was a vast and unexpected improvement over last season.
At the start of the year, most were going to be happy with a truly .500 season, or maybe finishing 2-4 games over .500. Instead, we finished 18 games over .500.
In the middle of the year, when we struggled and slipped to 17-12, many of us expected the collapse to begin. Instead, the team rallied, adjusted and finished the season on a 25-12 run.
Soft? No heart? This team? This team that has exceeded EVERY SINGLE PERSON'S expectations for this season? Especially their harshest critics? No, they are not soft, they don't lack heart, maybe last night they did, but on the season? They've taught us all what it meant to enjoy Pacers basketball again. They may not have championship level talent, they may be a year of growth and one more player away from truly competing, but they reminded us that Pacers basketball is fun. Just like the IU team did this year, and that is why both teams will always have a special place in my heart. In the end, both squads got beaten by the overwhelming favorite (assuming Miami finishes us off), but both teams had also made it known that they weren't going anywhere.
At the very least, they will have taken the vaunted Miami Heat to at least 6 games, they will have been the first Eastern Conference team to beat Miami on their home court in the playoffs. Some will say that the only reason any of this series happened is because the Heat lost Bosh, and that may be true, but it is also true that Miami chose to build their squad that way, and that injuries are a part of the game. The Heat are vulnerable to an injury to the big 3 in the same way we are vulnerable to the fact that we just aren't as good as Lebron and Wade, personally I think our problem is easier to fix. Miami can't suddenly find more cap space to bring in a big 4. (Not to say we will be better than Miami next year, but I think we will be improved, and better prepared for the battle and the playoffs.)
So when the clock reads all zeroes on Thursday night, win or lose, you can be damned sure my butt will be up out of my seat giving this particular team the standing ovation they deserve. They've earned that much. And I don't want us to get so wrapped up in the Heat flipping the switch and ground pounding us the last two games that we miss that.
Because we don't get to come back here guys, come October/November of next year, it is different. The Pacers will wear a bullseye on their backs most nights they go out on the court. This underdog, nobody respects us rally cry we've had all year, it's going to go away. There will be expectations, heck, some people may pick us to win the division with Rose's injury. We don't get to come back to this point, so if Thursday is the last night we get to enjoy THIS team, this particular team that has truly lead a renaissance of Pacers basketball in Indianapolis this season, because next year they will change, we need to savor and enjoy it.
We don't get to come back here, we don't get a do over. We don't get to feel the elation of watching this team slowly prove to all of this that they are honest to goodness good at basketball, and truly our only hope against the Heat on Thursday and God willing on Saturday in Miami, may be if the players realize this too.