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Thursday, July 18, 2024

Read the label on these Pacers

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Have you ever wondered about a particular product and if it actually performed as stated? 

As my late Auntie often asked me, “Did you read the instructions on the label, and what about it didn’t work?” We’ve all been there when something doesn’t perform consistently or at least the way we feel it should, and despite our patience with things, we finally become disenchanted.

It’s really no different in professional sports, where fans are often lulled to sleep with a team that exceeds their expectations early on and thereby sets a standard where those who faithfully buy tickets expect that level of play to continue and hopefully even improve as a season progresses.

Such is the case with the Indiana Pacers who after twenty games have won sixty percent of their games and in the process generated some additional enthusiasm by virtue of their performance in the NBA’s recent In-Season Tournament, which saw them advance to the final round before experiencing a one-two haymaker from Anthony Davis and LeBron James.

While the aforementioned has been enjoyable for those who support the Blue and Gold, it does alter the expectations upwardly and sets the stage for even more euphoria or a crash landing, depending on how the balance of the season unfolds.

To date, it’s hard not to ponder the possibilities for this team, as when their opponents allow them to engage in a track meet type of tempo, and they shoot well from behind the arc, the Pacers are a legitimate tough opponent for many of the teams in today’s National Basketball Association. 

However, the flipside of this coin is a rather pedestrian version of a team that demonstrates defensive lapses and allows the opposition way too many rebounds, uncontested layups and wide-open perimeter shots.

While youth and inexperience undoubtedly factor in, this team has enough talent and depth to make the playoffs, which is something that their fanbase hasn’t seen in recent history.

There’s been enough impressive performances from this group to make one think about what could be, but I maintain those lofty expectations need to be tempered to a reasonable level, all the while enjoying a potential return to respectability through consistently competitive basketball, the type that keeps the turnstiles at Gainbridge Fieldhouse moving too.

I said before the season began that a record of 41-41 would put them in the postseason and put Rick Carlisle firmly in the Coach of the Year conversation as well.

Before you tell me to expect more based on what we’ve seen to date, remember this is a franchise that has broken quite a few hearts in the past. Perhaps their apparent rise from historical mediocrity to their current perch amongst the contenders is real and will continue. Just remember to check that label anyway. 

Danny Bridges, who remains skeptical but is hopeful, can be reached at (317) 370-8447 or at bridgeshd@aol.com.

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