Mike Dunleavy, consider this your wake-up call. The Indiana Pacers need you. We need you. I need you.
The shouting from the hilltops for the perennially wounded veteran to stand up, return to the lineup and take charge of this fallen team has already begun. After two losses to start the season, including a 96-83 loss to Heat at Conseco "Reggie Miller" Fieldhouse on Friday, it's apparent that something noticeable is lacking on this team, and the Indianapolis Star's Mike Wells knows the answer -- Dunleavy.
In his Pacers Insider blog post last evening, Wells cites the Dunleavy's ability to create offense by not having the ball, while also acting as a constant fluid movement through the post, perimeter and driving lanes which create havoc on the opposition. Wells writes,
"There's not one healthy player on the Pacers' roster that does that well. Right now, the Pacers have a group of players not playing in their element. There are guys trying to create off the dribble. That's not going to work."
I thought that was spot-on. Unfortunately, until the Pacers nab an early-season win, we're going to dismantle everything the team does because we haven't seen them do anything very well. The shooting has been off-the-mark, defense sporadic at best, post play invisible, a starting backcourt (T.J. Ford and Brandon Rush) that has been one of the worst in the league, the free-throw differential has been amazingly one-sided (in the wrong direction), and former Pacers franchise players are reincarnating themselves into blue and gold destroying machines. Seriously, Jermaine O'Neal scoring 22 points along with 12 rebounds was a sweet kick to the junk for Pacers fans. Thank goodness Jamaal Tinsley never found a team this offseason. He'd make Ford look like, well, T.J. Ford. Hmm, this is not good.
Well, we've got until Tuesday to soak in the first two losses. To help with the soaking process, after the jump are an abundance of links covering last night's game. Enjoy.
- The IndyStar examines the Pacers faltering the home opener, while falling at the hands of Dwyane Wade and his reformed sidekick, JO. Looking for some hope? Wells quoted Dahntay Jones as saying, "In the fourth quarter, we could have broken the game open. We had segments where we played really good defense. It's unfortunate we have to come from behind and fight that battle." See, there is some hope there. Just some though.
- Bob Kravitz tells Pacers fans to not get too worked up about the first two losses.
- The Star also profiled the return of JO to the city of Indianapolis. Jeff Rabjohns caught the following exchange after the game between former Pacer Austin Croshere and O'Neal."You look athletic, man," Croshere told O'Neal after the game. "I worked hard as hell," O'Neal said.
- Box score
- AP story
- As usual, Bruno has a top-notch postgame report over at NBA.com, along with his live blog from last night's game. Danny Granger, who was 6-for-20 from the field, gave Bruno the following quote:
"We're disappointed for ourselves as well as the fans that showed up tonight. They deserved better. You don't get behind early to a good team like this and come back to win. We have got to work harder. Four-of-23 from the three point line won't beat anybody. We've got to go back to the drawing board and get ready for the next game. I thing we're all disappointed in the game tonight."-- Granger
- John Oehser of the Indiana Pacers Examiner noticed the Pacers did accomplish two things Friday night -- play better defense and limit their turnovers. There is some good news to take from this game.
- Always Miller Time recaps the contest, and Eight Points, Nine Seconds shows a revamped Pacers logo that resembles a question mark. Definitely fits this team, doesn't it?
- The Indy Channel reports on the Pacers organization trying to win back fans, while also reaching out to a new fan base.
- For the Heat take on the game, here is SB Nation's Peninsula Is Mightier's game report, along with their live chat during the contest.
- The Miami Herald reports on Wade's breakthrough of finally winning in Indy.
- Finally, for some other news in the NBA this weekend, check out the Weekend Dime on ESPN.