The Pacers are the talk of the NBA as the only remaining unbeaten team after forcefully putting away the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday. So far, the team has been able to remain focused on the task at hand but the increased praise and attention can also be an added distraction capable of shattering that focus.
The Pacers host a talented Toronto Raptors team trying who have struggled out of the gate at 2-3. On paper, a game the Pacers should put away on their home floor. But all of the signs of an exhale-induced let down are in play, so the Pacers will have to continue to show their maturity to deliver another professional effort.
One thing Toronto brings that should keep the Pacers focused is Tyler Hansbrough. The former first round pick of the Pacers is never fun for opponents to face, but the Pacers should be plenty use to having him on the floor. Hansbrough is playing a familiar reserve role for Toronto, averaging over 18 minutes per game off the bench with seven points and almost seven rebounds per game.
While Hansbrough was a controversial pick at the time, I have to think he will get a nice ovation from the crowd at the Fieldhouse. He didn't make the Pacers draft him and no one can question the effort he delivered while wearing a Pacers uniform. Plus, the fate of the current roster would likely have been far different had Larry Bird chosen a point guard instead of Hansbrough. Sometimes things work out for the best.
For his part, Hansbrough gave the most "Hansbrough-ian" answer possible when asked about his return to Indiana.
"I understand who we're playing. I'm not the type of guy to get emotional or something like that, look back at all the things," he said.
"I'm more of a present guy. This is where I am now and this is what I'm trying to do. I don't really look at the past that much like that."
D.J. Augustin also plays a reserve role for the Raptors but likely won't enjoy the same reception Hansbrough receives. Although, I can't imagine much hearty booing for D.J. either, more indifference which is sort of the attitude he displayed while playing for the Pacers last season -- indifferent.
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