Following a physical double-OT win on Tuesday, the Pacers came out on Wednesday in Memphis with a burst of energy and sharp shooting to take an early eight-point lead.
That would be the last burst of the season.
The lead dwindled to two by the end of the first quarter and became a double-digit deficit by the half. While the Pacers were fatigued and force to watch David West limp off the floor after tweaking an ankle, there was no proper amount of rest to deal with the Marc Gasol that showed up for the Grizzlies. As a strong team with a chance to move up in the standings, Memphis was just too much for the Pacers.
The Pacers never faded away, but couldn't get the requisite stops to make a full comeback happen.By the time Paul George scared the bejeezus out of everyone by getting carried off the court, the die was cast. There was nothing left in the tank and the Pacers literally limped out of Memphis to end their season.
There are several pockets of the regular season you can look at which had more impact on the Pacers missing the playoffs than the final loss to the Grizz. I'd also say, there were several improbable wins over the first couple of months, when the team was severely short-handed, that leveled out those low points.
Now the offseason begins with either the 11th or 12th pick in the lottery. The league will conduct a tie breaker with Utah on Thursday via random draw. Luis Scola, C.J. Watson and Rodney Stuckey are key reserves that are now free agents along with Lavoy Allen, Donald Sloan and Chris Copeland.
There will be changes but Stuckey should be a priority as a good fit for both team and player. Both Stuck and C.J. Miles proved to work well with the roster and provide a needed offensive boost which will be even more valuable with a healthy Paul George in the mix.
Roy Hibbert and David West both have big player options neither will be able to match on the open market. Will West give it one more year hoping for a healthy roster? Will the Pacers find a taker on Hibbert's expiring contract or ride it out with the big fella?
Many more question to ponder as we wait for the offseason to really heat up this summer. But after a rough 2014-15 season, a pivotal offseason suddenly arrives as the Pacers look to the future.
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