Since I've used this example in a couple of threads regarding chemistry and how teams can fall apart with issues, I thought it might be worth revisiting this case study.
On Jan 31 of 2003 the Pacers were at 33-12, coming off a home loss 2 nights before to the Spurs (who were 4 games behind them at the time). They flew up to Toronto to face a dreadful Raps team and lost to them by 12. But they came home the next night, beat a modest Boston team and made that loss look like a blip, layover from the SAS perhaps.
They are 2nd in the NBA with a 34-14 record.
They get 2 off days before playing a .500 Lakers at home (home for Bos, off, off, LAL) right before the AS break. They are upset by 3 in that game. Worrying but perhaps they are looking ahead to the break.
For the ASG Isiah is the head coach, JO starts and is a guy starting to show up in MVP discussions, and the team's starting center Brad Miller is named AS reserve. One Pacer is annoyed by his ASG game snubbing - Ron Artest (and a year later he would be an AS and DPOY).
They come back from break and beat a horrible (#1 draft pick Lebron will come this summer) Cavs in Indy, but then also beat a solid NO Hornets team on the road. The Cavs game is way too close given a 35-15 type team at home vs a 10-40 team (11 pts), but wins are wins.
Then on Feb 14th they have to go to OT vs a poor Atlanta Hawks (19-33) team in Indy with a day's rest and your eyebrows go up a bit. And in OT they only win by 1. But at 37-15 they still lead the East and have the #2 record (Dallas) despite looking vulnerable for the prior 2-3 weeks.
2 nights later they have a rematch in Atlanta and lose by a fair amount (13) which is not a fluke win. The Hawks led the whole way.
2 nights later they play in Memphis. So again you had a free day to go from Indy to ATL (Hawks traveled too), and a free day to go from ATL to MEM. This is a baby road trip without having to play back to back nights.
And they lose that Memphis game in OT to a team at 16-36 after the win. So now it's starting to seem problematic. It's only the 3rd time all season they've lost 2 in a row, and these are games they should clearly win.
Next comes critical matchups on the road vs NJ and SAS, both rivals for the NBA's top record. If you can only win this NJ game it will offset some of the sting of those last 2 losses (ahem, think Houston game last night).
It is Feb 20th when they lose to the Nets in NJ, marking their first 3 game losing streak of the year.
Now at this point if you aren't freaked out by the similarities in OUTCOMES ONLY, setting aside whatever you think about the personalities of the 2 teams and focusing only on the types of games they are losing and the timing of those losses, then I can only think you are in denial.
The loss @HOU last night mirrors the circumstances almost precisely of what was going on as the 02-03 team came into NJ, right down to it being the first 3 game losing streak, being just a bit after the AS break, and coming off a road loss to a poor team in the Carolinas/Georgia.
My brain sees this and screams "W T F IS GOING ON!?!?!?!" It's crazy in similarities.
So the sad tale is that much like losing in HOU is followed by a trip to a good Texas team for an attempt to stop the losing streak, that NJ loss was followed by a trip to a great Texas team (SAS) who promptly beat them to send them to 4 straight losses and full-on panic mode. S*** was getting real by this point.
Those Pacers got 2 days off before a home game vs a sub-500 Wiz team, and then lost that game at home for #5 in a row.
Then it was back on the road to face a strong Boston team and the Pacers were held to 14 1st qtr points and 15 4th qtr points for a final score of 69-71. REGGIE MILLER went 2-14 in that game on Feb 26 (cough...Paul George...cough).
The losing streak ended at home on Feb 28th when they beat a 500 Bucks squad. Ron was back and went 7-10 and despite the horror of a 6 game losing streak you could almost think that finally they'd solved the problem.
And then they lost another 6 straight to make it a 1-12 record.
This ended after game 65. The team was now at 38-27. From there on they actually got back over 500 and finished 10-7 to hang on to the 3rd seed. It wasn't elite ball but they'd weathered the storm perhaps and were figuring out what to do with their issues and how to win games again.
Then the 6th seed Celtics beat them 4-2, Isiah was fired and Carlisle was about to take them to a franchise high 61 wins (despite losing Brad Miller)
BTW look at playoff game #1. At home vs Boston ALL the starters played well. Ron was back and playing well too. The starters were 28-52 FG shooting, and as a team they outshot Boston, outrebounded Boston and shot/made more FTs than Boston.
But Boston went 9-23 from 3 (39%) while Indy went 5-21 (24%) and those 4 extra points plus a 15 to 10 TO advantage got Boston the win.
The Indy bench went 4-20 and 0-8 from 3 (Harrington, Croshere and Bender mostly). Reggie was 1-5 from 3. Tinsley and Artest went 4-8 from 3 and Tins had 9 assists too.
I guess we just had bench shooting issues (not scoring cause Boston only got 7 bench points) and they just "hit tough 3pt shots".
That statement in no way sounds like any recent statements I've heard in Pacers post-games.