Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
Give us three words (and some explanations for your choices) to describe the Indiana Pacers at this point of the postseason.
Steve Aschburner: Deep. Talented. And now soft. S-O-F-T. If that’s what Larry Bird sees, it’s good enough for me. The Pacers didn’t need to brawl vs. Miami but they needed to push their inside agenda. In the most bruising way necessary.
Fran Blinebury: 1 – Disorganized: Sloppy passing, nonexistent defense and no answer to the Heat dunking exhibition. 2- Delicate: When Danny Granger went down with his ankle injury, they surrendered. “I can’t believe my team went soft,” Larry Bird told the Indianapolis Star. “S-O-F-T. I’m disappointed. I never thought it would happen.” 3 – Done.
Scott Howard-Cooper: Potential, because this is only the beginning of what could be an annual playoff run. Underdogs, because the Heat is still the best bet to advance, even after being down earlier in the series. Learning, because this is the first time in the playoffs for this roster. It takes some experience of being together in this situation.
Shaun Powell: Lucky: They beat the Magic without Dwight and got Miami without Bosh for all but a half. Brash: Never thought I’d ever see Danny Granger, praised for ushering the Pacers out of the Malice/Palace Era, so chippy. Deep: You’d think that a rotation that goes eight-deep would reveal a stiff or two. Haven’t seen that player yet.
John Schuhmann: “Solid,” but that’s not good enough to beat the Heat, even without Chris Bosh. “Slow,” because Roy Hibbert can’t contain LeBron James and Dwyane Wade on the pick and roll, and no Pacer can keep up with them on the break, even when they commit only five live-ball turnovers (like they did in Game 5). “Boat-bound,” because I think they’ll be gone fishin’ come Thursday.
Sekou Smith: Dazed and Confused. They might even have a collective concussion after getting knocked on their tails in Games 4 and 5 of this series. They still have a great young nucleus and the sort of talent needed to be a factor in the Eastern Conference. But they have been exposed a bit in these past two games as a fragile bunch that can be knocked off balance with a flagrant foul to the right spot. I didn’t call them “soft” — Larry Bird said that — but they have exhibited some tenderness here that you don’t want to see out of a team fighting to make the Eastern Conference finals.