It seems obvious to me the 2008/2009 Pacers are trying to prove to everyone in Indiana and the league that they matter again. They are doing a great job. Although I think what developed from a good win against Boston and then the great win against LA was a skewed sense of where this team is in the NBA pecking order and in their re-building process. There is a thin line between love and hate same goes for this version of the Pacers, only the line is between suck and great and that’s exactly where the Pacers find them selves.
Fact of the matter is the Pacers have integrated 7 new players 3 of which are new to the NBA (Rush, Hibbert, McRoberts), also bringing in 2 point guards Ford & Jack to run the team (both new to Indiana and Obie). These are tasks that wouldn't be easy for a good team achieve successfully, let alone the post brawl Pacers pulling it off. Oh yeah, top scorer from last year Mike Dunleavy Jr. has not played in a game for the Pacers this season. Taking into account all of these factors they have 10 wins! The Pacers could easily be battling the Oklahoma City Thunder for worst record in the league.
The goal of every team and fan is for their team to be in contention for the championship and folks it's going to take 2 to 3 years. Larry Bird knew this on draft day, he also knew that his best post player was Jeff Foster. Great as Jeff is he is only one man and won't be able to defend or score consistently against the top front courts in the league. It will take time for and maybe 2 or 3 player acquisitions for them to establish a competitive front court.
For any house to stand the foundation must be strong. Jermaine O’Neal was not the guy to build on and by all accounts Danny Granger is. Jamaal Tinsley was not the guy to play through and by all accounts TJ Ford is. Rick Carlisle was not the guy to lead and by Larry's comments and the fact the players are still playing for him Jim O'Brian is the guy to lead. The steps that Larry Bird has taken are exactly the right ones for the franchise. The playmaker the foundation and the leader have been put in place now we just have to sit back and watch this house go up.