I love watching the NBA and especially the Pacers. Even when things aren't going well there's always something to learn about the game, the team or an individual player. The good and the bad can be equally intriguing.
But I have to say, during the second quarter of the Orlando game on top of the slop I took in the night before from Miami, for the first time I can remember I asked myself a simple question: Why am I watching this?
I think it was right after a failed alley oop by the Pacers when Solomon Jones was almost inadvertently undercut by a teammate after the two collided just as Solo left the floor. Of course, the pass bounced wildly to the Magic. Jason Williams took it the other way and with plenty of Pacers back on defense, none made the effort to stop the ball allowing Williams to cruise in for an open layup. Basic, glaring breakdowns in effort along with physical and mental execution.
Of course, I continued to watch and there was some good and more bad from that point on which further highlighted the inconsistent effort and execution the Pacers show, not just from game-to-game but sometimes quarter-to-quarter.
The talent level isn't enough to overcome their lack of cohesion as a unit and certainly not enough to withstand poor effort and execution. Consider the fact that the team has used more starting lineups (16) than it has wins (14). Yet, the second unit is often more productive. That just illuminates the lack of NBA-caliber starters on the roster right now. There's a solid cast of role players or 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th men off the bench, with options available for any circumstance. But against a starting unit on a top 15 team, the Pacers' lead five (regardless of combination) requires a strong, unified effort to compete. Most nights, that ain't happening.
Jim O'Brien continues searching as he considers starting a small lineup with Danny Granger at the power forward spot and likely, Troy Murphy at center. This type of lineup has been successful at digging the Pacers out of deep holes so far this season, but for some reason hasn't been used to try to avoid getting in the big hole in the first place.
So, bring on lineup #17 and see what happens. I can't get any worse and who knows, it might just level out the wildly inconsistent play of the Pacers and at the same time keep me from asking myself questions.