What we have witnessed this evening is the equivalent of seeing a unicorn or gathering hard physical evidence of the Loch Ness Monster. In other words something rare and beautiful that only happens once in a generation.
To not only walk into their house and sneak away with a win but to actually stomp the living crap out of them for 2 & ½ quarters is almost unbelievable. In fact I am still trying to check to see if I dreamed that game or if this was something that I actually witnessed.
With all do respect and apologies to our fellow Digest member Sam Bear this victory may have been my favorite so far this season and in fact it may go down as one of my favorites of all time. People facebook wasn’t even invented the last time we won down there. If you are 20 today you were 9 when we last won there. It seems like Haley’s comet returns to our solar system as often as we win there.
But win there we did. Oh believe me it started out the same and I won’t lie, midway through the 1st quarter I was already telling my wife that we probably could stop watching live at half time and I would watch it later on DVR if she wanted to watch something else as I felt the blow out coming. Ha little did I know that the blow out would be coming from our end. Fortunately for me they started that turn around in the 2nd so I watched live all night.
This was a team effort, of that there can be no doubt, but I would feel bad if we didn’t acknowledge that this all started by David West coming in for the totally inept Ian Mahinmi and taking over. Whether it was good matchup or David was exerting his will I can’t say for sure, it may have been a combination of the two for all I know, but that is where the turn around began and it never ended.
While butterfingers (what’s the French translation for butterfingers) did nothing but foul and look foolish making me actually long for Jeff Ayers (Pendergraph) our team floundered. The moment West took over he went all Klingon Warrior on the Spurs and basically eviscerated Matt Bonner with forearms that were equal to Bat’leths. It wasn’t only on the offensive end that David dominated tonight on the defensive end he was destructive as a Bird of Prey (we’ve got a Star Trek theme going this evening). 3 steals and 2 Blocks to go along with 20 points and 8 boards? Are you kidding me? His performance does not merit a song it merits its own opera.
This is why I’m going to go ahead and say it here and now. We are 20 games in and generally we stop and take time to review where we are at 20 and things we think need to be done or moves that need to be made but generally we like to say are we what our record say’s we are at 20.
I’ll put my two cents in right here and right now.
Yes, we are as good as our record says we are and I’m going to go ahead and use the hyperbole that I’m sure we all swore that we wouldn’t use going into the season (myself included).
This is the best overall Pacers team I have ever seen and I have seen every single team since 1976 and I have seen every team live since 1985. This team is better than the mid 90’s team that I loved with all of my heart, they are better than the team that went to the finals and they are worlds away better than the 03/05 teams.
Now before you chastise me and tell me to calm down and not put the cart before the horse and all of that stuff let me explain. I am going off of a 20 game sample so I am using that vs. 20 games by any of those teams and I’m telling you in my mind for the first 20 games of this season this team has played better than any of those teams did over a similar stretch of time. I’m not sure on records, in other words I don’t know if one of those teams had a stretch of 19-1 or something like that I only know that style of play and players this team can only be closely matched by the team that actually went to the finals.
Why am I saying any of this? Simple tonight’s game was another example of why I believe this is the best Pacers team ever. While George did have a big game of scoring and West certainly had a big game as well look at that starting unit and then tell me where the weak link is? Either on offense or defense? There is nobody in that unit that we have to hide of defense (or claim that they are a good team defender but still have to cover them all of the time coughDunleavyCough). On offense on any given night in any given quarter all five of them can lead this team in scoring and there are NO ego’s that are out of control. I won’t say there are no ego’s because to be a player at that level you have to have an ego.
Look everyone knows I loved Dale Davis but you could not throw Dale the rock and say take your man off of the dribble, or establish a post up game or hit the mid range shot or well basically score as your primary function. It wasn’t going to happen no matter how bad he tried and often times trying badly was the end result of this.
Reggie Miller was the man for year after year after year on our team but I am fairly confident that he had it written into his contract that he was not required to rebound. On the other hand how many nights has Lance Stephenson led our team in boards? You also wouldn’t say Reggie go out there and play physical defense, ever.
Ron Artest was a defensive stalwart and he even could score but he is not even in the same stratosphere as Paul George on defense and on offense it’s like comparing a Spanish Galleon to USS Ronald Reagan.
Rik Smits was a great center for our club for a few years, he also was a stinker for awhile as well, and even though he was a good shot blocker (all time leader) he was not the defensive force that Roy Hibbert is and under no circumstance did I ever believe that Roy would turn into the rebounder that he has. I’m not sure Rik ever had the types of rebounding and defensive games that Roy has let alone seasons. Our entire defense is anchored by Roy while well let’s be honest our entire defense back then was anchored by Dale Davis. Did you realize that Roy Hibbert got 12 points on 4 shots tonight and not one of those 4 shots was a 3 point attempt? He went 3 of 4 from the field, that my friends is the definition of efficiency.
While both Jamaal Tinsley & Mark Jackson could pass and dribble far better than what George Hill can neither of them could defend at even ½ the level that he can and only Mark Jackson was nearly as clutch as George. BTW to me that is high praise as I consider Mark one of the greatest point guards of all time.
In other words player for player in the staring five they are absolutely the best I’ve ever seen.
Bench, while improved, still needs something. Not sure what yet but I think we are one good player away. I know we won’t make any moves this year, nor do I really think they should because of chemistry issues, but I’ll be honest and say I wonder what we could get for a combination of Mahinmi & Copeland. Bah, le’s not dwell on this at all as we are 18-2.
Say that again and feel damn proud of it 18-2 including going 3-1 so far in our 5 game W.C. road trip and we were in that Portland game till the very end. In other words we could lose 17 games in a row and still be above 500%.
These are the good times; these are the times we band together and be proud of what we have. Look I more than anyone am guilty of looking for problems in hopes of solving them and hey as I type this I know that we may very well go to OKC and get our collective @sses kicked, but for tonight as a fan I’m going to celebrate something I never dreamed possible as the season started. I am going to celebrate the fact that we are the single undisputed best team in the entire NBA through the first 20 games. The next 62 though are of equal importance I know, but for tonight it’s time for all Pacers fans to unit in as one and shout.
We are the **** of the walk and to paraphrase Denzel “King Kong’s got nothing on us”.
As to grades I’m going to say this.
All starter plus Luis Scola & C.J. Watson get A+’s
All bench players minus Scola & Watson get F’s minus Mahinmi who get’s an F-.
This was a hell of a victory for our club and whether or not it sends a message I don’t know but I do know this, we are FOR REAL.
It’s time for the 20 game evaluation war cry.
Raaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa aaa
To set the mood here is bring the noise by Anthrax and Public Enemy