Pacers Relish Chance For ‘Mustard’

INDIANAPOLIS – Many would consider Game 3 a make-or-break game for the Indiana Pacers in their Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Miami Heat.

But some Pacers consider Game 3 something of a make-or-break game for the franchise’s fans, wondering what sort of numbers and noise the folks of Indiana will bring to Bankers Life Fieldhouse Tuesday night.

“We had a bet that, we wondered whether there would be more ketchup than mustard,” Pacers guard George Hill. “You don’t get it, do you?”

Actually, Hill’s media audience after shootround Thursday did get it, but he spelled it out for them anyway: He and teammate Paul George had seen the colors in the stands for games against Miami in February and the Chicago Bulls pretty much anytime they hit Indianapolis. Lots and lots of red worn by fans of those teams, enough that the Fieldhouse was awash.

That’s the “ketchup.” The “mustard,” naturally, is Pacers gold, which sometimes gets crowded out because the Fieldhouse isn’t always known for its crowds, period.

So Hill and George got to talking. “We just want to see what it will be,” said Hill, a local guy – he was born, raised and played through college (IUPUI) in town – who takes this stuff personally. “We’re thinking, we’re up and coming. We’ve been very positive role models in the community, things like that, where we think we should have this place jam-packed with a lot of mustard, more than a lot of ketchup.”

It hasn’t been that way yet, despite Indiana’s 42-24 record in the regular season, good for the East’s No. 3 seed. The Pacers ranked next-to-last in home attendance at 14,168, barely 200 more tickets sold per night more than the New Jersey Nets – whose fans at least could hold a grudge against their team for its looming abandonment.

Even factoring in the configuration of the Fieldhouse – generally acknowledged as the best basketball venue in the NBA – and going by percentage of seats filled, the Pacers ranked 26th of 30 at 78.0 percent capacity (18,165). They trailed the Wizards, Hawks and Bucks, and finished higher than only the Cavs, Bobcats, Nets and Pistons – lottery teams all.

Many have attributed the locals’ lukewarm response through the years to the lack of playoff success and to unsavory off-court incidents involving players such as Stephen Jackson and Jamaal Tinsley. Some date it back to the infamous brawl in Detroit in 2004 that for many turned the Pacers into a corn-fed version of Portland’s “Jail Blazers.”

There have been spurts since, and the crowd did pick up in the first round series against Orlando this month, enough that some players and media folks considered it a turning point.

“There have been a lot of nights when it’s been kind of silent in here,” center Roy Hibbert said after Indiana ousted the Magic in five games. “But not tonight. Not this series. I think we’re giving fans something to be proud of.”

Now all they have to do is show up. Hill remains a skeptic.

“Maybe we’ve got to throw the throw the ketchup away and just bring some relish or something,” the point guard said, in what sounded like a cryptic pledge to, what, beat Miami and face Boston in the next round?

“Who knows? We’ll take it for what it is,” Hill said. “If it is a lot of ketchup, we’ll just have to send them home unhappy.”

Asked about the mindset of his team for Game 3, Indiana coach Frank Vogel said: “We’re very hungry.”

No wonder, with all this talk about condiments.

31 Comments

  1. robert says:

    Way to go GEORGE. Lots of folks down here in San Antonio are expecting more of the same from you and your new family. I hope you burn those Heat so bad they think they’ve died and gone to hell. -I was really surprised to hear indiana isnt the small market roundball lovin twin we in san antonio always thought they were. But, if the crowd THERE isnt big enough or loud enough for you, just imagine all the old fans in San Antonio who are still rooting for you. – And as for that so called KING of Miami, well just remember its down right UN-american to show any respect for a KING and kick his butt for us. Dont make us come up there and do your work for you, ya hear? -see ya in the finals.

  2. GSW15 says:

    the indiana fans yesterday reminded me of the “We Believe” Era.

  3. Pacers fan says:

    Pesto & Mustard on EC finals!

  4. nbapacersfan says:

    The Indiana Pacers are going to shock the world… stay tuned !

  5. Mr.305 says:

    What susprised me the most wasn`t even the loss, because i knew Indiana could atleast win 2 against us. Even when we had Bosh. What does shock me however is Wade`s loss of control , and how he only scored 5 points. Unfortunately, if he continues that, the Heat WILL get eliminated. Wade for the sake of your fans here in Miami that absolutely adore you, plz, tighten up

  6. Jonski22 says:

    heat loss….but somehow I’m still not counting them out….btw, wade 5 pts…really????

  7. Josh says:

    I’ve been a Heat fan since day 1 when Roni Seikaly was drafted and an NBA fan for longer. Game 2 was the first playoff game where the Heat had to play without Bosh and it was still very close in a defensive minded game while adjusting on the fly. I don’t think the 3 point shooters (Battier, Chalmers, and Miller) will go 1 for 10 again making a big difference. If there isnt a 3rd player for the heat that can hit double digit points or a collaborative 20-30 bench scoring than as a Heat fan I am very worried. I disagreed with the starting lineup that Spoelstra went with in game 2 as Haslem has been iffy the past 2 seasons. I want them to move Lebron to power forward and put either Battier in at small forward for defense or Miller to space the floor because nobody respects Haslem’s 15 foot jumper that used to be automatic and hes now missing it the majority of the time. Make a couple more 3′s and put more emphasis on the rebounding and you will have a Heat victory.

  8. If we go to the statistics check it out:
    Lebron reached the finals in Cleveland “alone” That is to say without Bosh and Wade ( two all-stars).
    Therefore statistics in this serie are insufficient.
    In another point I want to say that I don´t have nothing against referees but the fouls that Lebron has received during his career aren´t comparable with the fouls that Michael Jordan received at 90´s playoffs.
    What I mean is to say that the fouls that Lebron has received along his career have been much more tough.

    Flasback;

    One time Reggie Miller only push Michael Jordan in playoffs in 90´s and it was like a flagrant foul number three. In fact Michael wanted to “kill” him for that. Let me ask you a question:

    Have you ever seen Lebron out of his mind during his professional career? Answer:

    You got the answer; Never.

  9. Well Damn says:

    The Celtics, relish comment had me dying. I hope Indy makes this a long series if not win it. I like seeing the underdogs win, especially when the top dogs are proclaiming multiple titles.

  10. Retro Silk says:

    I sure could sink my teeth into a ketchupless Le’Burger with a little bit of mustard and a whole lot of relish. It would be nice to smoke the Heat in 4 but it might be even better to talk some smack to the local Heat fans because their team couldn’t make it out the second round! Green all day!

  11. cherrypopper says:

    my hometown is the second biggest in this country and we’re all for our team – no way would we let anybody else’s fans own us !
    indiana police must really be sissies…

  12. Indiana played hard in AAA now they have to be able to recieve hard basketball fouls too.
    If they want that, they will recieve that.

  13. Miami will win this serie.

  14. Francisco says:

    come on steve, mention that kobe is 0 of 7 since 2007 in playoff in the last 10 seconds down 2 or for the win according to espn
    SINCE 2007 WHEN HE WAS AT HIS PRIME

    • kobe says:

      at least he takes the shot and doesnt differ and stand in corner…what about this stat..lebron is 8-17 from free throw line with less then a minute to go and miami trailing by one…

      • Celt21 says:

        With so many misses that would have been a more successful strategy… in hindsight

    • Who cares both of them are about to be eliminated from the playoffs.

    • NBAfan says:

      Yes, Steve, please mention that on Thursdays, and if a blonde is sitting courtside to the left, Kobe is O for 10 on half court shots……..common Steve….break it down and add as many parameters on your stat as possible so you can find a number to try and support what you’ve been trying to prove all along…..Steve…please do it..for Francisco’s sake…he HATES KOBE that much…he can’t handle how he is a winner and is a master of the game…

      He can’t handle that even though he can’t run and jump or is built like Lebron, he still did what Lebron can only dream off at this point…..

      Here’s a stat…Francisco is 67 out of 67 when it comes to bashing Kobe in blogs that doesn’t even involve him……

  15. legendmaker says:

    I think the Pacers have really got a shot here. espn (http://tinyurl.com/89bftjb) broke it down better than i could be i still feel the same way. if indiana plays hard & smart force the heat to make mistakes & control james and wade somewhat they can knock this team off. wow reading that back sure it sounds easy enough right lol, so says espn but truly i do think they have a shot at this

  16. this guy says:

    No one ever needed grammar to win a basketball game

  17. The realness says:

    Go pacers, the rest of the NBA wants you to put away the Heat without Bosh. Keep your heads up, and fight hard!

  18. BFoulds says:

    Booksandsociety, when you say things like that, it makes you look like a clueless, brainless, miami fanboy.

  19. The Pacers don’t have a chance of winning the series, not even a hint.

    • legendmaker says:

      i disagree, do you think the last game was just a fluke & can not be duplicated?

      • Celt21 says:

        3 more times? No.

      • NBAfan says:

        only 2 more times needed Celt21….of course they are the underdog in the eyes of most fans, but I think indiana thinks they can win it, and that’s why they can win it…

  20. The Pacers have no chance of winning the series, not even a hint.

  21. bleepshaw says:

    This is a telling stat: “Brian WindhorstESPN.com, Heat Beat Writer
    Heat are 28-4 this season when scoring 100+ points, 3-0 in playoffs. Pacers haven’t allowed 100+ in last 12 home playoff games.” via http://www.fancloud.com/nba

  22. Toss out the ketchup says:

    GO PACERS! WITH A TEAM FIRST APPROACH, YOU HAVE THE UPPER HAND. 5 AGAINST 2 WORKS IN YOUR FAVOR. JUST ASK DALLAS, THEY DID IT LAST YEAR WITH 5 AGAINST 3.

  23. Wanchu says:

    Lebrick said, NOT only one, NOT only two,NOT only three, NOThing will come for them this year, even the championship ring. Way to go… PACERS; as the heaven above, you will win the series.

  24. Grant Stern says:

    Indiana hasn’t got much going beyond hit dogs and Andrew Luck these days….