How low can you go?
The Indiana Pacers went west a week ago clinging to seventh place in the Eastern Conference. After four losses on the road pushed their losing streak to five, they landed back in Indy last night tied for tenth in the East.
I mention this, not to evoke a Jim Mora-esque reaction from ye faithful readers, but to remind you that making the playoffs is a team goal. Prior to the trip, Jim O'Brien mentioned that it was such a priority that the team discussed the playoffs and their standing in the East every day.
I just hope the playoff goal remains a priority because they will have to take a different path to get there than JOB set out on to start the season, a path that includes heavier doses Tyler Hansbrough, Paul George, A.J. Price -- players JOB has been reluctant to trust on a consistent basis.
Obviously, the playoffs remain a long-shot at this point even though a simple three-game winning streak could put the Pacers in contention for the sixth playoff spot. Only problem is, the Pacers haven't been able to win more than two at a time all season. There will be inconsistent play from night-to-night as the young players adjust to larger roles, so a complete transformation of the mind, body and soul of the team will be needed to meet their goal, but that gaol shouldn't be abandoned.
That mind part may be the biggest problem. Reading the quotes from players after last night's loss reveals a team down on itself without much fight in the tank. Support players Hansbrough and George both have career nights but don't get the support they need from the beaten down team leaders. Don't expect things to settle down until the trade deadline passes in a month, since the Pacers and many specific names on the roster will likely be mentioned in plenty of rumors over the next few weeks.
Coaching changes, players changes, lots of changes -- everyone knows the Pacers need to make changes. I just wonder how far the team will sink in the meantime.
After the jump, a few links of interest from last night's loss.
- Box score
PACERS: Game Rewind: Nuggets 121, Pacers 107
Game Rewind has analysis, notes, quotes and stats from the Pacers' 121-107 loss in Denver Sunday night.
Pacers finish trip with 121-107 loss to Nuggets - IndyStar.com
Mike Wells reports from the scene of the crime and finds a Pacers team that sounds like it is going through absolute hoops misery.
George in, Rush out for Pacers? IndyStar.com
Mike Wells notes that Paul George has leap-frogged Brandon Rush in the playing rotation, the Nuggets get revenge and A.J. Price getting into the swing of playing.
- AP: Anthony leads Nuggets past Pacers, 121-107
Nuggets vs. Pacers: Denver earns three-layer cake in walkover win - Denver Stiffs
Nate Timmons recaps Melo's big night and the Denver win.
A winless trip out West for the Pacers | Pacers Insider
Mike Wells shares his thoughts on the mess he witnessed during the Pacers' road trip.
Indiana Pacers Report Card | NBA.com
Mid-term grades are in and NBA.com serves up a C for the Pacers.
The Point Forward " Posts A few other unofficial midseason awards "
Zach Lowe runs through a few mid-season observations which include comments on the Pacers.