While NBA teams have mastered the art of tanking their season away in hopes of landing better odds in the upcoming NBA draft lottery, the Indiana Pacers want nothing to do with it. Only 14 games remain before the Pacers get sent on vacation to watch the Playoffs from a seaside bed in the Caribbean. But that's not changing their attitude about winning.
Bruno reported yesterday that not only is coach Jim O'Brien set on winning as many as games as possible during the last few weeks of the season, but the players (especially the young ones) are determined to show they're better than how they've looked this season.
Jim O'Brien said, "I think it's important that this group grow as a unit and there's nothing like ending the season feeling like you're improving as a group, that there's hope going into next year that you can sustain winning. So I think it's very important that we win. If people that are paid to win basketball games think about anything else but winning basketball games, it would show a tremendous lack of integrity, so we don't deal with that. Our guys are into trying to win basketball games."
The basketball gods have a funny way of doing things. In an effort to keep the team out of the John Wall Sweepstakes once-and-for-all, Indiana's remaining schedule is easier than cake. Home is where the heart is and the Pacers will get 10 of their final 14 in the Fieldhouse. They'll play the likes of Detroit (twice), Washington (twice), New York, Sacramento and New Jersey.
Second-year center Roy Hibbert added that he was concerned only about creating chemistry and productivity with his teammates during the final weeks to help carryover to the summer and next season. "We're players and obviously we have pride and confidence in ourselves," Hibbert said. "Our record doesn't show it but we definitely want to win for ourselves. Whatever new pieces come in, you don't want to have that bad taste in your mouth to carry over into next year. So going off on a good note and winning, hopefully we can build off of that with the new people coming in next year."
Hopefully the basketball gods shine down upon us for having such great hearts for winning with pride, and give us a high lottery pick for the effort. Praying might help. Some more links after the jump.
Hansbrough: Still no diagnosis
Mike Wells reports on Tyler Hansbrough, who has been in-and-out of doctor's offices for the past two months seeking answers to his injury problems.
Ray Felton could be Indiana’s next point guard
Dime Magazine checks on the Pacers and wonders how it the team would look with Raymond Felton running the point.
PACERS: Scouting Report: Pacers vs. Pistons
Santosh Venkataraman previews tonight's matchup in Indy with the Pistons.
Pistons' Rodney Stuckey, Ben Wallace expected to return, come off the bench Friday
The Detroit Free Press reports that the Pistons get some of their firepower back tonight with Rodney Stuckey and Ben Wallace returning to the bench.
The Sporting News adds some insight into a preview of the game.