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Thread: Pacers now 3rd best in east? two articles sizing up the east

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    Administrator Unclebuck's Avatar
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    Default Pacers now 3rd best in east? two articles sizing up the east

    http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/sports/8012093.htm







    Has East grown up yet?

    ISRAEL GUTIERREZ

    igutierrez@herald.com


    Who has the goods now?

    With a little more than a quarter of the season remaining, the unofficial Dark Era is over in the Eastern Conference. There likely won't be anymore coaching changes, there definitely won't be anymore trades no matter which players and coaches aren't getting along, and one team can officially begin an Eastern Conference renaissance by somehow winning four out of seven games against a Western foe in the NBA Finals.

    Now that all the dust has settled, who has the best chance to do that? There are a handful of contenders.

    DETROIT PISTONS

    With Rasheed Wallace now in the fold, the Pistons seem to have the best combination of talent to match up with a Western Conference powerhouse.

    At the very least, adding Wallace says they're trying to match a team out West and not just contend for an Eastern Conference crown.

    ''What this does, you can best believe when our players walk on the court, they are going to know we are serious about winning,'' said Joe Dumars, Pistons president of basketball operations. ``It sends a message that, yeah, we are Central Division champ and we've got the second-best record in the conference, but the status quo isn't good enough. We are trying to get better.''

    Have they gotten good enough to beat a team led by Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant, or Peja Stojakovic and Chris Webber, or Kevin Garnett and Sam Cassell, or Tim Duncan and Tony Parker?

    An examination of the roster says yes. With the combination of Rasheed Wallace, Ben Wallace and Mehmet Okur, the interior defense would be effective against any of the Western giants.

    The scoring, meanwhile, can come from either Chauncey Billups (the player who most resembles Tim Hardaway when he played in Miami), Richard Hamilton, Rasheed Wallace or Tayshaun Prince.

    Toss in Corliss Williamson and Mike James, and the Pistons have one of the best eight-man rotations in the league.

    The last time Rasheed Wallace was on a team this good, it (Portland) was one fourth-quarter collapse away from beating the Lakers in 2000 and delaying Los Angeles' rise to dynasty status.

    NEW JERSEY NETS

    The Nets aren't playing as well as they played the past two seasons, when they reached the Finals twice. They're playing even better.

    Under Lawrence Frank, who replaced Byron Scott last month, the Nets are clobbering everyone and playing with a sense of purpose they've lacked for some time.

    Frank, at 33, is already being celebrated for his motivational techniques. He's a head-in-an-ice-bucket away from being the next Pat Riley.

    Take his speech prior to the Nets' game against the Hawks, who had just added four new players. The diminutive coach came into the locker room with a stool and explained how a lion tamer uses the piece of furniture to distract the beast.

    'He was like, `What does a lion tamer bring into the cage with him? center Jason Collins said. ``A whip, a chair and a tranquilizer gun. He was like, `Why the chair?' And he said when you hold up the chair, the lion focuses on the four legs, and that paralyzes the lion because he can't focus.''

    The lesson: ''Don't be the lion,'' Collins said. ``Don't get distracted by the legs of the chair. Don't get distracted by what we did last week or by the next opponent or by what's going to happen next week. Focus on one thing -- tonight's opponent, the Atlanta Hawks. Go out and get the win. Don't be the lion.''

    While it might not make all the sense in the world, Frank's antics are effective.

    And it's not much of a stretch to say that had Scott not been the Nets' coach last season, they, not the Spurs, would be defending champions. New Jersey took two games from the Spurs in last year's Finals, and that was despite the fact players were annoyed with Scott's game plan in the series.

    This year, preparation won't be a problem.

    INDIANA PACERS

    Before the Pacers can be a factor in the playoffs, they have to be able to avoid a collapse in the regular season. With Ron Artest likely out until the last two weeks of the season, the Pacers will need to regain their midseason form very quickly to be a factor in the postseason.

    ''What makes it so serious is we've got only 28 games left in the regular season,'' Reggie Miller said of the Artest injury. ``And when he does come back, is that going to be enough time for him to come back and get his rhythm and groove back?''

    Even when he does return, the Pacers still don't have enough to compete with the Kings, Lakers or Timberwolves when healthy. Jermaine O'Neal is not enough. If a Garnett or Webber can keep O'Neal under control, the Pacers have no perimeter players who can create for themselves or their teammates on a consistent basis.

    Artest can handle that responsibility on occasion, but he'll have trouble if guarded by a Bruce Bowen, Bryant or Doug Christie. Indiana's still a player away.

    NEW ORLEANS HORNETS

    NEW YORK KNICKS

    The Hornets have the size up front with P.J. Brown and Jamaal Magloire to at least bother the top frontcourt players out West. And they have the ability to score with anyone when Jamal Mashburn, Baron Davis and David Wesley are at their best.

    But depth will be the Hornets' problem. Robert Traylor, Darrell Armstrong, George Lynch and Stacey Augmon aren't enough to keep up.

    Plus, there's the Mashburn factor and how he'll respond under the ultimate pressure History says he'll abandon the Hornets when they need him most.

    The Knicks have nice parts but a bad sum. Stephon Marbury can penetrate and kick to Allan Houston and Tim Thomas, run a pick-and-roll with Kurt Thomas and pull up for three-pointers all he wants, but jump-shooting isn't going to beat any of the top Western contenders this year. The Knicks' only hope is that Dikembe Mutombo and Nazr Mohammed prove to be a daunting defensive tandem inside, keeping scores relatively low. No chance.

  2. #2
    Administrator Unclebuck's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pacers now 3rd best in east? two articles sizing up the east

    http://www.nytimes.com/2004/02/22/sp...ll/22HOOP.html








    In the East, Are 2 Wallaces Better Than One O'Neal?
    By CHRIS BROUSSARD

    Published: February 22, 2004


    week ago, Indiana's Jermaine O'Neal sounded as if he did not want to be associated with the rest of the Eastern Conference.

    "People are not giving us the love we deserve because we're in the Eastern Conference," O'Neal said. "But we don't consider ourselves an Eastern Conference team and we don't consider ourselves a Western Conference team. We consider ourselves a league team. If you want to talk about good teams, or the top teams in the N.B.A., you have to talk about the Indiana Pacers."

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    But after what happened a few days ago, you might have to talk about the Detroit Pistons and the Nets before the Pacers. Detroit suddenly became the most talented team in the East after acquiring Rasheed Wallace from Atlanta for a bunch of role players, and in winning 12 straight under their new coach, Lawrence Frank, and 13 straight over all, the Nets are playing like the team that rolled through last year's playoffs.

    The Pacers?

    Though still a contender for the conference title, they are no longer the favorite they seemed to be just a month ago, especially with Ron Artest missing the next few weeks after thumb surgery. Artest is expected to be back before the playoffs and he is clearly tough enough to play through the pain, but Indiana's competition is gaining ground.

    In fact, the East may finally be gaining a little ground on the West.

    By adding the 6-foot-11 Wallace, the Pistons become the first Eastern team since Chicago won the N.B.A. championship in 1998 to have the size necessary to go nose to nose with the Western champion in the finals.

    It is not hard to imagine the Wallace gang, Ben and Rasheed, returning the crown to the East, especially if the injury-plagued, controversy-riddled Los Angeles Lakers don't get it together.

    "Normally, big men go from East to West," said Rod Thorn, the Nets' president, who tried to trade for Rasheed Wallace last summer. "Here's a case where a quality big player went the other way. I think it certainly helps Detroit, and it's certainly good for the East as far as having another outstanding player."

    That said, Thorn and Donnie Walsh, the Pacers' chief executive, say they believe the East-West imbalance was overstated, even before Detroit landed Rasheed Wallace. Walsh said that when the Lakers' Shaquille O'Neal is taken out of the equation, so is the West's invincibility.

    "I always looked at it like Shaq was in the West and that's what the difference between the two conferences is," Walsh said. "Not discounting Tim Duncan and anyone else out there, but when you're hearing all this stuff about East-West, I don't know if it applies to some of the teams in the East. There are teams in the East that can certainly compete against anyone in the West besides Shaq. There's really nobody out West except Duncan that can compete with Shaq."

    Thorn said the Nets' performance against San Antonio in last year's finals showed that undervaluing the East is not accurate.

    "I think whoever comes out of the East will have a very good chance in the finals," Thorn said. "I really believe that. Last year, we lost, 4-2, and every game except one could have gone the other way. I think we're going to see a really competitive series this year."

    Especially if Detroit represents the East.

    Minnesota Still Cruising

    After running to the second-best record in the West without Wally Szczerbiak, Michael Olowokandi and Troy Hudson, the Minnesota Timberwolves wondered if the return of those players from the injured list would disrupt their chemistry. On Thursday night, they got an early indication when Szczerbiak and Hudson returned against the West-leading Sacramento Kings.

    With Szczerbiak coming off the bench behind Latrell Sprewell and the defensive stopper Trenton Hassell, Minnesota trounced the Kings, 92-75. Granted, Sacramento was without Brad Miller, who sprained his ankle at the All-Star Game, but the Timberwolves were still impressive.

    Chemistry problems were nonexistent, and if Szczerbiak, a onetime All-Star who averaged 20 points and 7 rebounds two seasons ago, embraces the role of providing instant offense off the bench, the Timberwolves will only improve on their strong performance in the first half of the season.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Pacers now 3rd best in east? two articles sizing up the east

    If I were doing power rankings, I'd rank both the Pistons and New Jersey ahead of us.

    New Jersey is obviously playing the best basketball in the East, maybe the league. I don't think that is debatable.

    And, Detroit moves ahead of Indiana, although they haven't proven anything yet, because Sheed Wallace makes the Pistons front line competitve with the Pacers and New Jersey.

    Rasheed adds a strong interior defender to an already good defense and another good scorer.

    The Pacers have their work cut out, if we are going to be honest.

    Keeping home court advantage in the playoffs looks crucial.

  4. #4
    Boom Baby'er ABADays's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pacers now 3rd best in east? two articles sizing up the east

    Changing one's mind is a woman's pergoative I guess. I think I'll stick with us as the best until one of these team's proves otherwise.
    The best exercise of the human heart is reaching down and picking someone else up.

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    Default Re: Pacers now 3rd best in east? two articles sizing up the east

    Changing one's mind is a woman's pergoative I guess. I think I'll stick with us as the best until one of these team's proves otherwise.
    Agreed. What do sportswriters and prognosticators know anyway? And what has changed since the last time we played the Nets and beat them? They have a new coach, we lost Artest. Ron will be back before the playoffs, and unless the next 27 games are disastrous, I don't see any team in the East topping us right now. Even if we went 16-11 for the remaining games, the Nets would have to go 22-6. Anything can happen, and has, but I see us doing slightly better than that, and the Nets doing slightly worse. Could be wrong, have been before, but I haven't thrown in the towel yet. We still have a long way to go before the playoffs and the finals.

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    Boom Baby'er ABADays's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pacers now 3rd best in east? two articles sizing up the east

    New Jersey has won 13 games in a row and they are still 5 1/2 behind us. Pistons are 7 1/2 behind us. The Nets will run into something somewhere. Hell, they should have gotten hot somewhere after playing barely .500 ball for the first 2/3 of the year.
    The best exercise of the human heart is reaching down and picking someone else up.

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    Grumpy Old Man (PD host) able's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pacers now 3rd best in east? two articles sizing up the east

    Changing one's mind is a woman's pergoative I guess. I think I'll stick with us as the best until one of these team's proves otherwise.
    I couldn't agree more.

    All of a sudden, by adding "bad boy weed" to the Pistons we would be 3d in the East?

    Where did this come from?

    New coaching might have invigorated the Nets, but oye, beating Atlanta was no great feat and they still have to beat us to even draw the series. let alone win it.
    Detroit. they got stronger, on paper, but on paper only, whether rasheed is on hib best behaviour or not, he still has some issues to deal with and the team has to mesh again, I am not yet convinced they will be so much stronger, and to announce their front court stronger then the P's is outright silly, it all of a sudden did not go of the charts because they gained sheed, Ron is not our for the duration and with Al we still have some people upfront and a number of them on the bench as well, I like JO/JB/RA at least as much as theirs and we have Jeff, Al and Cro as well to throw at them.
    Naw, prove the words by riding the ride first.
    Pacers did not get their record with a bottle of pop, they worked for it, defeated several West contenders, all East contenders and showed resilliance while experiencing injuries with Al or JO out.

    And are back courts all of sudden out of the equation? so now we have to believe that Reg, Tins Freddie and all those others we have are of no importance to a game?

    This reasoning is simply to weird for words, in an earlier post I already wrote that the schedule for the Nets was one that allowed for the streak, don't be overly impressed, no matter how good and long it is, they are still at least 6 games behind us and the Pistons even 7 or more.

    Same silly talk erupted when the Pistons went on a run, 12 I believe? and then ? a 6 game losing streak, come of it, this is the NBA, they all make runs, most consistent teams win it, not the streaks and despite those teams having their runs we are still lenghts ahead of them.

    IF the Lakers come out of the West we will deal with them and there is no other team we have to fear out there. It is strange that with the mailman out and not foreseeable back in soon, they still count on him in the play offs to be a major force, while he has a knee injury, Ron with a thumb injury on his non shooting hand is discounted because he won't have the time the mash again, completely forgetting he is already on the practise floor again!

    I say bring'm all on, we can beat all of them and certainly in a best of 7.
    We have more depth then either of those teams, and an eight man rotation is somewhat short for a series, certainly if we can throw a strong 10 man rotation at them.

    And out of all the front courts mentioned only ours has JO on it



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  8. #8

    Default Re: Pacers now 3rd best in east? two articles sizing up the east

    Good post, able. The thing is, if you go to a Pistons' board right now, they say they're the best in the East now. Go to a Nets' board, same thing. Here you have a pretty balanced opinion about that, no one is really deluding themselves. It's going to be a tough run considering all that has happened in the last few days.

    But until any one of those two teams prove otherwise, we still have the best record in the conference, the 2nd best record in the league, and are tied for the best road record. Ron's absense will have an impact on that to be sure, but it still doesn't diminish that when he's healthy, we have played incredibly well throughout the entire league. And if our last game is any indication, it looks as though there are some players ready to step up and fill the void left by Ron. Did you notice anything special about that game? Think now.

    Trick question.

    There wasn't. We did what we've been doing all season long. We didn't lose our composure when we were behind late in the game. That's been a hallmark of our play all season, and it still appears to be the case despite Ron's absence. That encourages me.

    I am genuinely excited to see how this all this works itself out. The sportswriters out there seem to be ignoring the fact that Ron will be returning when it matters most. And I have no doubt that when he does, it won't take long for him to get back in good form. He's that kind of guy.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Pacers now 3rd best in east? two articles sizing up the east

    Something they forgot to mention:

    3-0 vs detroit.

    2-1 vs new jersey

    huge lead over everyone.

    Yeah, we're the third best team in the east ed:

    ********. Until those 2 teams beat us in a seven game series, they haven't proved anything. That's it.
    Don't ask Marvin Harrison what he did during the bye week. "Batman never told where the Bat Cave is," he explained.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Pacers now 3rd best in east? two articles sizing up the east

    I still think the Pacers are the team to beat in the East; Rasheed can create matchup problems and will help the Pistons but they still have 2 young inconsistent players as part of their core group with Prince and Okur and its tough to overcome that.

    The Nets are 27-9 since starting out 7-11 so they've gotten it together and have been terrific but I still don't see them beating the Pacers in a 7 game series. The Hornets and Knicks definitely aren't at the level of the Pacers. I didn't like the Rasheed trade because of the way the Hawks handled the situation and IMO it definitely helps Detroit but I've watched alot of Pistons and Pacers games on league pass and I just feel the Pacers are a better team they play with great chemistry and discipline and their role players do a wonderful job of accepting their roles. Your bench players all season have stepped up and thats important in the playoffs especially when starters get in foul trouble or injured plus you guys still have the best player in the conference this season in JO.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Pacers now 3rd best in east? two articles sizing up the east

    I'd still say the Nets have the strongest case for saying they are the team to beat. Not the Pacers or Detroit.

    The Nets are the Conference champs two years running and are playing great ball right now.

    Being ranked in the power rankings first or third doesn't matter anyway. Nothing to get excited about. It's what happens in the playoffs that matter. Hanging on to our lead in the standings will help in the playoffs, but what will really matter is how we are playing then.

    I could give a sheet whether Detroit fans they they are the best team now. It's only the playoff games that matter, not some mythical power ranking.

  12. #12
    Member indytoad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pacers now 3rd best in east? two articles sizing up the east

    I'd definately have to agree. The Pacers have dropped to third in the East, no question. The record from the beginning of the season has no bearing on how the teams are playing now. At this point, the only playoff teams I would have confidence in the Pacers beating in a seven-game series are Toronto and Miami.

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  13. #13

    Default Re: Pacers now 3rd best in east? two articles sizing up the east

    I'd definately have to agree. The Pacers have dropped to third in the East, no question. The record from the beginning of the season has no bearing on how the teams are playing now. At this point, the only playoff teams I would have confidence in the Pacers beating in a seven-game series are Toronto and Miami.

    IndyToad
    In three easy steps
    You are the WORST pessimist in the world. How can there be no question? It's not like the teams have played each other. Detroit has not proved they can win with Sheed. And they are 7.5 games behind the Pacers, yet they are better? I think not. Yes NJ is playing well, but that doesn't mean they are better than us. Det also had somem 12 game winning streak too, but they arent better than us. Why should NJ? Pacers are playing well without Artest, and will prove that we are the best. These writer don't know anything. Whatever. Makes it all that more sweet when we kick the East's *** in the playoffs.
    Don't ask Marvin Harrison what he did during the bye week. "Batman never told where the Bat Cave is," he explained.

  14. #14
    Member Alabama-Redneck's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pacers now 3rd best in east? two articles sizing up the east

    Everyone has an opinion. Sportswriters, fans and players all have their own opinion but guess what?? All the opinions don't mean squat. They still have to play the rest of the season and the playoffs to determine who is the best.

    Unless the sportswriters can crown a champion without the playoffs, they will just have to let the teams decide for themselves.

    So who is the best team in the East? Right now it is the team with the best record. Your Indiana Pacers and until some other team achieves a better record or beats them in the Playoffs, they will remain the best team in the Eastern Conference.

    :P
    I would rather be the hammer than the nail

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    Default Re: Pacers now 3rd best in east? two articles sizing up the east

    Everyone has an opinion. Sportswriters, fans and players all have their own opinion but guess what?? All the opinions don't mean squat. They still have to play the rest of the season and the playoffs to determine who is the best.

    Unless the sportswriters can crown a champion without the playoffs, they will just have to let the teams decide for themselves.

    So who is the best team in the East? Right now it is the team with the best record. Your Indiana Pacers and until some other team achieves a better record or beats them in the Playoffs, they will remain the best team in the Eastern Conference.

    :P
    NJ is looking good right now...and they are the defending Eastern conference champs... i'll give em that... they'll come back down to earth... the eastern elite are alot better than last year...I don't know if NJ is...


    Indy has been the best team in the east till this point... our record on the road... and against the Western conference overall ... solidifies that point... are we playing the best ball in the east right now??? probably not... NJ probably is...and Detroit potentially has the best team with the recent robbery...errr...trade.

    Should lend to an exciting stretch run and on into the playoffs.

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    Tree People to the Core! indygeezer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pacers now 3rd best in east? two articles sizing up the east

    Toad toad toad...tsk tsk tsk

    are you back to your "negative karma for good Pacer luck" tricks? You used to be famous for that on the ESPN site. Toad used to be the original "If I say anything good I'll bring em bad lucK" guy...so he took the opposite tack...and it worked, somewhat.

    Then again 2nd seem about right to me. NJ is playing darn well right now. Detroit has to show me, I don't and won't believe they are that good.
    If you get to thinkin’ you’re a person of some influence, try orderin’ somebody else’s dog around..

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    Default Re: Pacers now 3rd best in east? two articles sizing up the east

    Personally I think this debate is easy.

    NJ is the best team in the East.

    San Antonio is the best team in the league.

    Until someone beats either of those two in the playoffs I'll stick with that - as long as both teams continue to play like contenders. Three weeks ago I wouldn't have included the Nets in that equation.

    Detroit has to play a few games before I anoint them as anything but in the top 3. Personnel-wise yeah - they have the best lineup. Doesn't mean it'll play out that way on the court though.
    The poster formerly known as Rimfire

  18. #18
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    Default 3rd best

    These self proclaimed experts who write for newspaper and or TV are funny. Pacers 3rd best check records. Pacers can't play with the west, once more check the records. the Pacers has played 18 games against the west have won 12 of these and lost 6, They split with the so called power house out west, Lackers Minn. S.A. Houston, and have not played the kings but once. These jokers are stupid.

  19. #19
    Artificial Intelligence wintermute's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pacers now 3rd best in east? two articles sizing up the east

    you know what? i actually like it that the pacers are flying under the radar now. less expectations = less pressure. i don't mind the media proclaiming detroit or new jersey as the best teams, as long as the pacers themselves don't fall for it.

    at the end of the day, teams still have to go out and beat other teams. the pacers have been doing that pretty well so far

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Pacers now 3rd best in east? two articles sizing up the east

    I would never have thought that the bandwagon would be so empty so fast! I agree with Displaced Knick - NJ is the best in the East and San Antonio is the best in the West until they are unseeded. Of course many on this board have suddenly turned into fair weather fans and that disappoints me. It's very bad when I have to go to the 'other' forum to gain some positive reactions! Who would've thunk it?
    "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."
    - Benjamin Franklin

  21. #21
    Administrator Unclebuck's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pacers now 3rd best in east? two articles sizing up the east

    Of course many on this board have suddenly turned into fair weather fans and that disappoints me. It's very bad when I have to go to the 'other' forum to gain some positive reactions! Who would've thunk it?

    No way is it that bad, it just can't be

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