There are certain times in life where perception not only appears to be reality, but it becomes it, and the NBA is no different.
For weeks, reports from here to ESPN have been written about the Indiana Pacers being on the ropes. As some of us dismissed the talk as premature, the No. 1 seed came out and proved us wrong by overshadowing a 16-point victory with news of Lance Stephenson and Evan Turner attempting to Floyd Mayweather each other in a pre-series practice.
Perhaps it’s all a part of the pressure of playing for new contracts or possibly trying to save coach Frank Vogel’s job — the same way the Golden State Warriors were nearly brawling in Los Angeles to save Mark Jackson’s. Who knows? Desperate times call for desperate measures.
As the South Florida Sun-Sentinel‘s Dave Hyde points out, that statement does not exclude the Miami Heat:
“[Erik] Spoelstra doesn’t have five players to trust in every situation… The Heat have so many players on their outer edges of careers that Spoelstra’s challenge is to mix and match what remaining skill a player might have against the opponent.”
Hyde’s point was that the Heat were not random with their lineups because it was a genius formula for winning. He felt like coach Spoelstra’s rotations were built out of necessity, due to the lack of support around Chris Bosh, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade. However, I see things differently.
I believe success hit Miami because the players were more desperate than the organization. They had to win. Between having the eyes of the basketball world on their every movement and being expected to bring home every championship, there really was no other choice. But above all, it was pride.
This is the reason why Shane Battier was seen racing from baseline to baseline knocking down threes while everyone else was long gone from the practice floor. His pride wouldn’t allow him to miss the third playoff game of his career without putting up a fight.
Despite all of the talk about sacrifice, players want to play. So, when they finally get their chance, the only desperation is to prove themselves.