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Pacers Fight To Finish

The Pacers deserve some praise people. I know, shocking, I'm shining a positive light on the Pacers. But, seriously, what's not to like about this group right now.

After a great start, the season turned into a mess through a combination of injuries, off-court distractions, and poor defense. Yet, here they are, late in March, fighting like crazy for every W in sight.

The Pacers have moved past the injuries and off-court distractions and have worked with what they have to play as well as they have all year. Some nights (see vs. New Orleans) what they have just isn't enough, but that doesn't mean the stop working. I didn't enjoy the road losses earlier in the month at Dallas and Orlando, but I loved seeing the frustration, especially evident in Danny Granger and Mike Dunleavy, as those games slipped away. To me, that frustration spoke volumes about the effort and committment these guys were and continue to make to this season.

You'd need more fingers and toes than I have to count the number of frustrating losses that slipped away this year. A simple handful of those games going the other way and the Pacers are sitting in the playoffs right now. But, instead of tucking tail and making offseason plans, the Pacers continue to grind, to a man. Just in the last two weeks, we've seen Shawne Williams and Ike Diogu emerge from the depths of the bench to make strong contribution. They were ready, in late March, with mountains of excuses to not stay into it. Turns out these young guys aren't just getting paid, they're pros. They prepared to go to work whether called on or not, so when the call came they were ready.

Jim O'Brien deserves the credit for making it tough on this team to give in. He just won't tolerate it. That's why, despite some nagging common sense, I'm pulling for these guys to make the playoffs. They're in it to win it every night. I don't ever want this team to feel otherwise, so I'm pulling for them to reach their goal of making the playoffs.

O'B's influence really makes this team fun to watch. Even when they've lost lately, games that appear headed for 20-30-point blow out status, remain tight becaus the Blue and Gold just keeps digging. The silver lining of the season is the development of a core group that knows how to battle. Late in the season, that effort has turned into late game surges to win games.

There is such a misperception of this team right now, it drives me nuts sometimes. I'm not happy about some of the off-court issues of the past, but tell me again what you have against Danny Granger, Mike Dunleavy, Troy Murphy, Jeff Foster, Flip Murray, Travis Diener, and Kareem Rush? They're fighting their guts out to win and I, for one, appreciate it.