The Indiana Pacers lost to the New York Knicks last night as they slid to their fifth defeat in the month of March.The Pacers will continue to come up with excuses but maybe the answer to their problems is just that they are a team that peaked two months ago.
“We’re getting better but tonight, for whatever reason, we slipped in our screening and our setup and we’re unable to create separation,” said coach Frank Vogel.
Star player, Paul George chimed in:
“The way this team’s scheme is, it’s just a different defense. They switch almost everything on the floor. They take you out of stuff and we haven’t grown our IQ as a team into improvising when teams try to throw in little wrenches in our offense. That is where we have to grow offensively.”
Players and coaches can talk all they like about slipping and growing their IQ but plain and simple, this Pacers team were the best team in the league two months ago and now they are struggling to keep hold of the top seed in their own conference.
Earlier this month, the Pacers became the first team to clinch a playoff berth and they did so despite being in the middle of a losing streak. That losing streak was so severe that key players on the team called meetings to solve the problems.
That was two weeks ago and still the Pacers continue to leave fans wondering if they really are the real deal. Pacers fans may convince themselves that there is no need to panic, they have secured a playoff berth and they a virtual lock for the second seed. There are a section of fans that probably feel that they will figure it out in the postseason.
There is a danger in that theory however: The Chicago Bulls have emerged as a power in the east. Not a championship winning full-on scoring power but as a grinding defense-oriented team.
The consensus belief is that the Bulls, willed on by coach Tom Thibodeau and center Joakim Noah, could snap up a third seed. If that happens, (and it is a big if), then whichever team out of Miami and Indiana finishes second would be in a tough conference semi-final matchup which would likely go six long-hard games.
Of course, the Pacers do still possess that magic one seed. The Heat also lost last night to keep Indiana’s lead at three games. There remains time for the Pacers to fix their problems. I think they can do that. The question is: Will it be enough to stop the Heat’s quests for three?