At the beginning of their first-round series against the Atlanta Hawks, the Indiana Pacers were hyping themselves the way Mike Tyson would hype himself up for a fight. The Pacers needed to be hyped up. Indiana entered the playoffs on a month and a half slump, and NBA pundits were wondering if they had the skill or the will power to stand toe-to-toe with their arch enemy, the Miami Heat.
From what we are witnessing now, the Pacers are having a hard time going toe-to-toe against the eighth seeded Hawks.
If there was any indication that the Pacers’ mojo has all but evaporated, you can point to their pitiful showing on Thursday night. In a game in which the Pacers were pointing to as the game where the team would return to peak form, Indiana had no energy, no sense of urgency, and above all, no sense of teamwork in losing for the 15th time in 17 games at Phillips Arena.
From what I can tell, it seems like the hard work the Pacers put into the regular season to have home-court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs looks to be all for naught. Paul George, who was at one time considered an MVP candidate, has failed to provide a spark for the lackadaisical Indiana offense. And where in the world is Roy Hibbert? I’ll tell you where he is — nowhere to be found.
Folks, this is what the Pacers have devolved into, an incompetent, impatient and temperamental basketball team. For a team that had such lofty goals at the beginning of the season, those goals now seems on the verge of crashing down around them. The Pacers are now down 2-1 and face a must-win situation on Saturday afternoon against an Atlanta team that now fully believes it can shock the world and dump the top-seeded Pacers.
It is a stunning fall from grace for Indiana, and they have nobody to blame but themselves.