Pacers Get Lucky

After a back-and-forth battle between the Indiana Pacers and the Miami Heat, the Pacers have finally clinched the number one spot for the East Conference, but not in a self-deserving way. It was given to them.

Following a strong start at the beginning of the season, with setting a franchise wins record, it seemed to be clear who was going to take the East Conference top spot, until about a month or two ago. The Pacers began to fall apart, and it happened rapidly. If they would have beaten the Knicks on March 19th, they would have been four games ahead of the Heat, but they lost, giving the Heat another chance to catch back up.

When the team finally started to pull things back together and play the way they did at the start of the season, things were looking up. If the Pacers are to face the Heat again in the Eastern Conference Finals, it was crucial for them to have home court advantage. It all came down to the home game vs. the Heat. Fans were worried, but somehow the Pacers put the past behind them and finished a strong and close game to beat the Heat. All they had to do was keep winning and not lose the easy games…which they did. Not only did they lose easy games, but the Pacers managed to score a historically-low first half with only 23 points. Coach Frank Vogel sat his starters for the next game because of their poor performance, and somehow they managed to barely beat Milwaukee. Again, thanks to luck.

In my opinion, ever since Larry Bird tried to clean up some issues within the team, such as trading team captain Danny Granger, the team camaraderie has clearly vanished. The Pacers slowly began to fall apart and that element of holding the team together was simply not there anymore. It seemed as if they had lost their team captain, their veteran, and number one guy to look up to for assistance and experience..oh wait, they did. In a recent interview with Larry Bird, the president of basketball operations, he stated that he did not “believe that the departure of nine-year Pacer forward Danny Granger disrupted team chemistry.” Bird believed that the trade to get Andrew Bynum was important for the playoffs, but let’s not forget about the regular season leading up to the playoffs Mr. Bird.

It hasn’t been easy nor has it been enjoyable, but the Pacers have finally clinched the top spot in the Eastern Conference. They didn’t do it by dominating the conference and beating teams, but because they got lucky and the Heat happened to lose their last two games.   Starting as the dominating team of the conference to now a team based on luck, is not something to ride on in hopes of getting them through the playoffs. Along with the number one spot, they now have home court advantage. This will help immensely, but they also need to work on their team chemistry and get back to playing like the team they started with in November.

Luck can only take you so far and I can only thank the Heat for losing.

The Pacers’ Plummet

AP Photo

AP Photo

At the start of the season, the Indiana Pacers were the hottest team in the NBA, bolstering the league’s best record and its’ next emerging superstar, Paul George; not to mention to development of Lance Stephenson into a perennial triple-double machine.

However, the season progressed and reality caught up the Pacers. The trade for Evan Turner didn’t seem to be panning out like it was supposed to, revived former All-Star Andrew Bynum once again was out due to knee problems, and the team lost its top spot in the East. The Pacers have lost 10 of their last 21 games, at a time when the playoffs seem to be close enough to touch.

In this slide, the entire roster has not nearly played to the bar they set for themselves when they owned the top spot in the Eastern Conference; a position that was taken by the Miami Heat, a team that the Pacers just beat and will be playing again on April 11th. In recent games, the bench has had its production crippled by the injury of C.J. Watson, the drop-off of Luis Scola, and the lack of production from Evan Turner. However, the major problems seem to be with the starters.

Since before the All-Star Break, the starting five did not seem to be clicking like they had been, and the situation reached a peak after Friday’s loss to the Washington Wizards. While answering questions after the game, Center Roy Hibbert had some harsh words about his teammates: “Some selfish dudes in here…I’m really trying hard not to spaz out right now, but I don’t know. We’ve been talking about it for a month.” (For Full Quote)

AP Photo

AP Photo

One can only guess that Hibbert’s comments are referring to Paul George and Lance Stephenson, who seem to be handling the ball most often when the team is on offense. And it is true, during their recent rough patch, attempts by George and Stephenson have stayed significantly higher than Hibbert’s. Not to mention the numerous rebounds that Stephenson has stolen from the center, which has to be extremely obnoxious coming from a teammate.

To this writer, it all comes down to winning basketball games. When a team can put a check in the win column, chemistry problems seem to fade away. Every athlete is a competitor down to their core, and losing exacerbates negative feelings that would normally not be strong enough to voice to the media. If George can rise back to his MVP status and Stephenson can flirt with a triple-double every night, I feel like Hibbert would not have the urge to make such a comment.

Most NBA analysts are quick to hop off the Pacer’s band wagon, but I will always keep some faith in a team that can beat the Heat. Lebron James refuses to lose, especially when it comes to the Pacers, so the win proves that there is still some drive in the roster. During their third match-up, both teams admitted to the impact of the game to their momentum, both experiencing their own version of a skid; and the Pacers pulled out a win, temporarily holding off the Heat from the coveted one-seed.

What I learned from that game is that the Pacers do have the ability to pull it all together and win, even against talent like Miami. But, if the Pacers do continue to play like they are, who knows if the Pacers will even get to face the Heat come playoff time. Getting crushed by double digits on a consistent basis does not bode well for a team that was expected to fly through a weak East and beat Miami to get over that hump.

 

Why Some Sequels Never Work

space jam

In the entertainment industry, there are several movies with directors that feel the need to create a sequel. In some cases, these sequels are successful, but in others, they are a complete fail. There have been many rumors of a “Space Jam 2” sequel, not starring Michael Jordan, but instead featuring LeBron James. Although, James has denied the report, making this sequel would be the biggest mistake Warner Bros. made. Here’s why.

1. Sequels are never better than the original. No matter how much they try, the sequels never live up to the original. Space Jam was a box office success opening at #1 in the US and grossing over $230 million worldwide. This movie was a surprise. One of the kinds that you don’t know what to expect until you watch it and it surprisingly has a different, and interesting plot. There hadn’t been a movie with a similar plot line before Space Jam. Directors try too hard when they try to create the sequel and the audience knows what to expect at this point, and the satisfaction never lives up to the original movie.

2. It idolizes mediocrity. LeBron James just isn’t good enough to replace Michael Jordan in this role. Space Jam was published in 1996, a year after Michael Jordan returned to the NBA after retiring in the beginning of the 1993-94 season. Michael Jordan led the Chicago Bulls to a three-peat championship in 1991, 1992, and 1993. After he returned to the NBA in ’95, he led the Bulls to three more consecutive championship titles in 1996, 1997, and 1998. Yes, I understand LeBron James and the Heat have 2 consecutive titles, but he honestly has not accomplished as much as Jordan had during the time of the making of the movie.

space jam 2

3. The greatest basketball player of all-time, Michael Jordan. Along with reason number 2, LeBron James will never be the greatest basketball player of all-time. He’s pretty darn good, I’ll agree, but nothing will live up to the legacy of Michael Jordan. Yes, I’m a little bias, and I am not a Miami Heat nor a Lebron James fan whatsoever, but simply put, LeBron James does not equal Michael Jordan. I guess my hatred towards James started when he abandoned the Cleveland Cavaliers and the way he publicized it. Michael Jordan stayed true to the Bulls, despite retiring, but came back to the same team to help win more championships. His first season back from retirement, 1995-96, around the same time the movie was published, he helped the Bulls achieve an NBA record of 72-regular season wins, which is still unbeaten today.

After LeBron James denied the report of him starring in the sequel, there are still rumors floating around that Space Jam 2 is in the works. Regardless of who the NBA star is, nothing will ever live up to the original movie with Michael Jordan. Jordan will forever remain as the greatest basketball player of all-time.