The headline had my juices flowin': Summer Forecast: Who will win the NBA title? ESPN.com polled their NBA writers to break down which team they thought would win the NBA championship to conclude the 2008-09 season.
Sweet! Skip the conference and division break downs. This is winner take all time. Make the case for which teams are the contenders and how they might win or lose the coveted LOB trophy. Perfect.
I couldn't wait to see where they had the new look Pacers stacked up in the contenders pile. Surely they've noticed the roster make over, full of team-first guys willing to lay it on the line for Jim O'Brien and march through any challenge. Yeah, baby!
But ... wait a minute. Is this some kind of joke?
No Pacers logo among the top five contenders? I was shocked and dismayed to read nary a word on the blue and gold. In fact a search for the words 'Indiana' and 'Pacers' just returned a 'Text not found' message. Crazy.
Plus, they chose the Lakers as the most likely team the win the championship. Are you kidding me? Do you think Kobe Bryant wants to go through another humiliating championship series with no Mount-Rushmore-of the NBA-all-time-great gear to shift to in order to carry his team to the LOB? I don't think so. That's why he's keeping the pinkie injury available, so he can play it when things get too hot. I can't believe the Olympics spackled the blemishes from Kobe's June. Look, Juan Carlos Navarro won't be anywhere near a best of seven series in June for the NBA ring.
Yeesh. Well, since the ESPN hoop writers don't have the necessary vision to see the future clearly, I guess I'll just have to paint the picture for them.
The Pacers might win the 2008-09 title if ...
- Danny Granger goes into a Justice League-inspired zone on invincibility as his game rises to an All-Star level at both ends of the court. He becomes a reliable option in crunch time as the Fieldhouse faithful begin rising in unison whenever the ball swings over to 33.
- The rooks, Brandon Rush and Roy Hibbert, quickly slide into contributing roles thanks to the base fundamentals and maturity they brought with them to the League. Rush's shooting meets expectations and his perimeter defense allows him to start next to Granger and put Mike Dunleavy into a utility role off the bench which earns him a shoe-in candidacy for Sixth Man of the Year honors. Hibbert's presence in the middle anchors a spectacular defensive turn around for the Pacers and Rookie of the Year consideration for the big fella.
- T.J. Ford and Jarrett Jack play 82 games keeping the Pacers offense propelling at top speed all year, wearing down teams as they try to keep pace.
The Pacers might not win the 2008-09 title if ...
- Jamaal Tinsley isn't moved, shows up to drive Larry Bird nuts and earns the starting point guard position which in turn muddies the on-court leadership for yet another season and officially drives Jim O'Brien out of his mind.
- Opposing fans begin sneaking in rubber bats to freak out Granger and neutralize his basketball super powers, sending him into a cold funk for the remainder of the year.
- T.J. Ford and Jarrett Jack try to use JOB's offense as an excuse to keep firing up 3-balls without hesitation which leads to a clank-fest jamboree backed up by a chorus of boos from the few remaining Fieldhouse faithful.
Admit it, you thought I was crazy but now you believe. You're welcome.