The Detroit Pistons have been playing dead much of the season so it makes sense to consider their loss last night a posthumous gift to the Indiana Pacers after a morbid performance by the Blue and Gold in Charlotte which was far from a playoff-clinching effort.
Clinching a spot in the playoffs is not on the Pacers list of goals this year, instead a milestone in the season, so there was no champagne popped and swilled after Detroit lost Chicago to remain 22 games behind the Pacers with 21 games to play. Instead the Pacers were doing a lot of head shaking after one of their worst performances of the year which started with the worst first quarter in franchise history (let that sink in).
The Pacers have lost two in a row for only the second time this year, are dealing with a few nagging injuries and now face a tough Texas two-step over the weekend in Houston and Dallas. The loss also left the Pacers even with the Heat in the loss column as LeBron and the boys continue trending in the other direction. Looks like we have some real adversity brewing which is not rare during an NBA season but has been missing for the bulk of the Pacers run so far this year.
Over the past couple of years, this team has been great at responding in such situations and a little extra heat with the playoffs in view may be coming at the right time. The proper response to adversity can stiffen the spine and toughen a team up for the warm weather and playoff games, which by their very nature are nothing but adversity.
After the game, David West continued to sound the alarm for an increased sense of urgency over the final 20 games of the season. But it takes everyone adopting that resolve and then playing like it, tied together.
In other words, the opposite of what we saw last night. West was as bad as anyone else last night, and Paul George and Roy Hibbert had to set a record for the lowest combined point production by two All-Stars on the same team.
The Pacers have been playing lately like they'd prefer to fast forward to the playoffs. But now they have some work left to do if they not only want to earn the top seed in the East, but play like the top seed, as well.
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