Posts Tagged ‘Indianpolis Star’

Pacers Eager To Make Playoff Noise

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — This isn’t exactly groundbreaking stuff from the Indiana Pacers.

They are using the tried-and-true method of “Nobody Believes In Us” to shine their own spotlight on themselves as they wrap up the franchise’s best regular season in years.

The Pacers have won six straight games, nine of their last 10 (against a very generous schedule) and have the No. 3 spot in the Eastern Conference standings on lockdown, and yet there is still hesitation from the basketball-loving public to buy into this team.

There would be no need for these commercials (like the one above) with Pacers’ boss Larry Bird asking for support if the home folks were convinced their blue-collar team was more than just another temporary feel good story (see also: the 76ers of Philadelphia). The trepidation belies the facts, though. The Pacers have given us every reason to believe they are indeed for real.

Look inside the 40 wins and start categorizing the wins in terms of quality and all of the prime suspects are there. The Thunder, Heat, Bulls, Lakers and reigning champion Mavericks have all been vanquished at least once. With no RPI to worry about in the NBA, we don’t normally concern ourselves with a weighted system of measuring wins and losses. But if that’s needed in the Pacers’ case, so be it.

The best part for us, though, is that the Pacers seem to have a firm grasp on the concept of earning their respect the hard way, the old-fashioned way … by making some serious noise in the playoffs.


Bird Blames Players, Not Coach

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — You don’t see this very often, a professional sports executive banging on the players (not the coach) for a team’s struggles.

Usually, the coach is the first one to face the firing squad when things go awry. Not in Indiana. Not on Larry Bird‘s watch.

The Pacers’ boss has been giving conventional wisdom the stiff arm since his Indiana State days. So no one should be surprised to hear what he has to say now about his team’s 3-9 slide in their past 12 games. He’s not pointing fingers at interim coach Frank Vogel.

More from my main man Mike Wells of the Indianapolis Star:

“We started off pretty strong with Frank, then they hit a lull. They had some problems internally and it took the wind out of them. That has nothing to do with Frank, that’s on the players. The last 10-12 games, the guys haven’t reacted the way you do as professionals,” said Bird, who was on hand to witness the lackluster 26-point loss at Minnesota on Wednesday.

Team chemistry has been a concern all season due to the abundance of younger players and the absence of a leader.

The Pacers jumped to a 7-1 start under Vogel, capitalizing on a soft portion of the schedule.

Bird said strong starts are not uncommon when a coach is fired during the season.

Things came to a head, however, during and after last weekend’s loss at Houston.