First off I would like to congratulate the Pacers for a tremendous season. They far exceeded any expectations by anyone. At the beginning of the year nobody could have thought that the Pacers would win an easy series against the Magic and then push the Heat pretty hard in an extremely tough, hard fought, and very physical series. I can guarantee you no matter who they face in the Eastern Finals they will be thrilled not to line up against D. West, Danny, George Hill, and Big Roy (when he shows up). The Heat should easily take out whoever else they play and if they get Bosh back it will be a walk in the park.
The Pacers had alot of missed opportunities in this series but honestly the Heat was the better team. If you have two guys that can score 70 points a night then good luck. They faced Lebron playing the best basketball I have ever seen him play and they faced DWade that after he woke up in game 4, might have played the best two and a half games of basketball I have ever seen. D-Wade hit the most unbelievable shots I have ever seen and it was one after another and it didn't stop. Then Lebron is just the best player on both sides of the ball I have ever seen, enough said. With or without Chris Bosh, the way that Wade played the last three games of the series, there is no way they would have been beaten by any team in the league.
There were a few positives I found in the Miami series moving forward. D-West is a beast, he pretty much dominated when he wanted to and when he was given the opportunity to. Danny Granger is a true leader and much more tougher than I had ever given him credit for. He was faced with being matched up with the most dominant player I have ever seen and did not back down for one second and really played his heart out. Even though his scoring was not 20 a game, he brought it every game in the series and did not hurt this team in any way possible. Lebron is just that good. Roy Hibbert when he actually shows up for a game (see games 1-3), he is almost as good as any center in the league. As a team they fought very hard and gave it a good shot but came up short. They definitely overachieved this year and had a nice little playoff run. Overall a successful year.
Now for the negatives. Roy, Roy, Roy, where did you disappear to? Games 1-3, I would almost say you were a dominant force and the Heat absolutely did not have an answer for Roy. But, then he did what Roy always does, teases the fans with all star like play and then disappears. Really, Roy was guarded by Ronny Turiaff and Joel Anthony and could not come up big? His teammates counted on him big time and he failed big time. What happened to Big Roy that controlled the paint and had 5 or 6 blocks a game? Well he disappeared. No way to explain it. Highly inconsistent. Psycho-T, I love the dudes hustle and toughness but holy cow. I have a tough time watching him play. All he does is get blocked and fouled and hit free throws, that's his game. I was very, very disappointed in his season and playoffs. The worst draft pick the pacers have made since Tinsley or Shawne Williams. They picked him and passed on Ty Lawson? Really, could you imagine this team with Ty Lawson instead of Psycho(I can't hit a jump shot or make a shot in the paint without getting blocked)T. He just doesn't do much to help the team. He hustles and that is great but you have to actually be able to hit some open shots and not get blocked every single time you shoot it around the rim. Psycho T is bust city. Darren Collison, I can't figure him out. He is the most hot or cold player on the roster. When he is hitting the lane and playing fast and hitting little knock down jumpers he causes major problems for other teams. On the flip side, when he is cold nothing good happens on the court at all on the offensive end. The other guy that kind of struggled but since he is very young I will give him a hall pass on too much criticism is Paul George. To be a starting shooting guard in the league you have to score and he just does not look to score ever. He is a great rebounder and pretty good defender but you have to be able to create and score sometimes and he just never looks to do much besides shoot 3's or score in transition. But he is young and I hope he can look back at this series and see lots of ways in which he could have helped his team and really didn't. After game 3 everyone was talking about how great of defense he was playing on DWade, I guarantee nobody is saying that now. I am not sure if I have ever seen anyone get abused for 10 quarters like that. Leandro Barbosa, wow, what happened to him? The last two games he was a definite no-show. He might have had more turnovers and dumb fouls than minutes. He definitely killed his team in the 7 or so minutes he played tonight.
Coaching was excellent for the first three games. The Pacers were doing exactly what they wanted and needed to do. Exploit the Heats weak interior defense and rebounding. It worked very well and then they go away from the post completely? I can't figure that one out, we have the best two post players and we decide to see how many three's we can shoot in game 4. I know adjustments are made on both sides of the ball but its not that hard to throw it down to Roy and West on a consistent basis. Then I also thought some of the player rotations got bad when pretty much every starter would be on the bench and you would have Collison, Barbosa, Hans, and Lou in there at the same time. Now how is a lineup with those four going to keep up with Wade and Lebron? They aren;t and they didn't, that's how we lost the lead or their lead was extended every time we had these guys in at the same time. Bottom line, coaching was great for three games when three games when things were going well and then when shots weren't falling it didn't seem like adjustments were made. The last three games the Heat had two guys that were scoring and shooting and that was pretty much it. Maybe a trap or double team? Something? Anything? Two guys are going to score 70 points or darn near it three games in a row? That is on the coach and not just the players.
The strengths of this team are obviously David West and Roy Hibbert when Roy is not MIA. When these two are going strong they are a tough one, two combo and they set the table for everything else on the offensive and defensive ends. Our defense is very good and I can only see it getting better. Three point shooting is definitely a strength. I thought our bench was a strength but in this series i would say it was a huge glaring weak spot.
The weaknesses are not many. I would say that the bench play was not very good in this series where I thought our bench would be a huge plus against Miami, but it really was not. Their bench was absolutely horrendous but I would have to say in the series they got alot more from their bench then we did. Also the Pacers most glaring weakness that has been there since Reggie Miller retired is having THE MAN. The man that is going to take the last shot, the man that is going to hit the free throws to ice the game, the man that the other team has to worry about above all others. I don't think as the roster sits right now we have someone like that or even close. We need that guy. It would also be nice to have a guy that can drive and create. The only guy that can do that is George Hill and he does a good job but is not the answer. He is a very solid player and veteran leader and certainly chips in his fair share but we need a scorer plain and simple. Another weakness in the season as well as post season is consistency at center. Roy is very up and down and never solid like most of the other all star caliber centers are. He is either unbelievable or a complete no show like tonight.
Moving forward I hope that Larry comes back but if he doesn't, this will be a fairly attractive job and they should be ok. The biggest loss I think you will see is Brian Shaw. I love Frank but Brian Shaw was definitely a huge part of this teams success and he will be dearly missed. There is no replacement for him. We need to man up and get our scoring threat. There will be several options this off-season and we have to get a scorer that makes things happen. We tried the everybody can score 15 a game experiment and it was very successful in the regular season but in a seven game series you have to have a go to guy. I loved the Pacers team this season but it almost seemed like the basketball version of Moneyball. We had a ten man roster of excellent above average players but no real game changer. We also need to get a backup center and or backup power forward that can come in and play solid defense, rebound, and be relied upon to hit shots he should hit. Psycho-T gets far to many minutes for the player he is. Almundson, same thing. I love the hustle but bottom line there is not much production in those two guys and they need to be upgraded. I would love to see a true point guard in there other than the two headed carosel we have now. Both are nice together filling in for each other but I would much rather have one great point guard than two above average ones.
There are tons of great free agents this summer to target and several great point guards so i think they start there. There are only a hand full of shooting guards that would give a big impact. OJ Mayo, they have to get him or Eric Gordon. They will surely resign Hibbert and I can only hope he keeps improving in leaps and bounds like he has every other year. There are several great options to upgrade at PF and I would take almost anyone over Psycho-T, Beasly, Bass, Kenyon Martin, Kris Humphries, Ryan Anderson, Boris Diaw, heck even Troy Murphy or Jermaine Oneil might be an improvement coming off the bench. There are a few good centers that would be nice to come in and spell Big Roy as well.
All in all, great season Pacers. Nice playoff run. Way to push a great team to the brink and come so close to an unbelievable upset. They definitely generated a ton of buzz with their toughness and team play, which is not so common these days in the NBA. Now without a doubt the Pacers are a known team that can beat any team in the league on any given night. We are in a great situation with lots of cap space and a solid team in place. They were 3rd in the East and have a ton of cap room to play with. We just have to add that missing piece or two and next year could be the year. I can't wait until next year and hope everyone else had as fun a time as I did watching this team grow into the scary 3 seed that nobody wanted to play. The future is bright in Pacer land.