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Sunday, May 26, 2024

Bridges: Pacers return to earth but they’re still fun to watch

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The National Basketball Association can be a rather rough place for a young and inexperienced team, even one that gives it all they’ve got for Forty-eight minutes a night.

Throw in the rigors of life on the road and you’ve got a tough challenge every game no matter who the opposition is, as this is the highest level of basketball on the planet Earth.

So when the Indiana Pacers started off surprisingly well this season many fans thought they had turned the corner and were approaching legitimate playoff contention once again.

The talking heads on television and radio were proclaiming the resurrection of the franchise had occurred and they were convinced the Pacers were on their way again to prosperity.

Never mind it wasn’t even Christmas yet, as the gift known as winning had already been opened by those eager for a legitimate playoff run. When the page to the new year was turned, suddenly things changed and from that point, a team full of promise and a lot of hustle has went six up and 17 down and is sitting in 12th position in the Eastern Conference at 26-34, despite their great start to the season.

As l wrote Dec.1, while it was easy to appreciate their solid start, the reality is this group is young and clearly will continue to have its ups and downs, so it would be wise to temper our overall expectations just a bit.

That prompted many of you blue and gold diehards to label me as a hater via email, and question my basic knowledge of the game, and while this is not one of those l told you so columns, it is a subtle reminder of how young teams go hot and cold every year in today’s NBA.

A deeper dive in to the statistical data shows the Pacers rank 24th in rebounding and that’s a huge reason they are currently a rather dismal 8-20 on the road. While Rick Carlisle has done a splendid job coaching this group, youth and inexperience has had a rather obvious impact on a team that continues to play hard each game and has shown some great resolve in the process.

Obviously all is not lost when you sport an All-Star point guard in Tyrese Haliburton and a legit candidate for Rookie of The Year honors in Bennedict Mathurin, along with three of the first 35 selections in the upcoming NBA Draft.

That’s not an empty cupboard and it’s quite possible the Pacers could be on to something solid here soon.

Just enjoy this current roster and while there’s some holes to fill, they play hard every night and provide a fan friendly experience in Gainbridge Fieldhouse. The best thing you can give them is your patience and don’t forget to temper those lofty expectations too.

Danny Bridges who recognizes basketball potential when he sees it (most of the time) can be reached at (317) 370-8447 or at bridgeshd@aol.com.

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