[From the Fan Posts, when the captain speaks all should listen. -TL]
I know I haven't posted in a while here, but this hit me the other night while watching the Bucks game. I think everyone is fully aware that Divisions and Division Rivalries in the NBA aren't what they are in the NFL and MLB, but they still mean something. Not too long ago, the Pacers were atop the Central, had national TV exposure (the brawl game was on ESPN), a bright future, and were known as the best (or co-best along with the Pistons) team in the Central.
Look where we are now. The Cavaliers obviously are a title contender with what will be one of the best players of all time. There is nothing to do about that, understood. But last year, you had the pesky Bulls who won over all neutral fans during their incredible series against the Bulls last year. Even though they lost, they gave excitement to their fan base, and although they had no chance to win the title, they gave their fans a team to be proud of. That is why there are no meaningless playoff games. They got a ton of experience and came back this year and brought that excitement into a good series vs Cleveland. They are loaded with a ton of cap space, and two very promising young players.
Now the Bucks are the Bulls of last year. Took a shot (hint hint) on a "troubled" rookie with "potential", and it has paid off 20 fold. They are in a great 7 game series with the hawks, and even if they lose, at least they gave their fans and city a team to enjoy and root for. Hard nosed defense, while missing their best player, is something Indy hasnt seen in God knows how long. They wil go into next year with no championship ring, but the experience and confidence of a young up and coming team. What I wouldn't give to be waiting for a game 7 right now.
The Pistons are probably as bad as the Pacers currently, but they are coming off a run of 8 or 9 years of great basketball. They made some bad free agent signings in Gordon and Villanueva, but guys like Stuckey, Jerebko, Maxiell and Will Bynum can keep their fans happy and something to be excited for.
Than you have our Pacers. I don't want to be the negative guy on them, but the facts are the facts. This is not a very good team. This is not an exciting team. This is not a well coached team, everyone knows this. We have Danny, the blossoming Roy, and than what? The "safe" picks of Hansbrough and Rush? The great expiring contracts of Troy Murphy and Dunleavy in the future? The Pacers could be exactly where the Bucks are this year, and the Bulls were last year. We need a proactive GM who will go take some risks again. We need a coach that will discipline these guys, shake things up, and have them play for SOMETHING even if it is an 8th seed.
I openly say I did not watch nearly as much of this team this year as I had in the past years for certain reasons. I check this site, the stats, the recaps daily all year, and it was easy to tell whats going on. The same frustrations we have had about this team the last 3 years were there again. We are in the bottom of a division playing meaningless basketball all year. I dont know how, but thats got to change soon.