MIAMI – What started out as a much-publicized mission to secure home-court for the Indiana Pacers turned into a full quagmire during a 98-86 loss to the Miami Heat Friday.
Coming into their much-anticipated—and overly-hyped—matchup, the wannabe Beasts of the East from the Circle City looked more like zeroes, as they wilted under a 16-0 third quarter Heat assault, fueled by the reigning NBA MVP, LeBron James.
After starting out the season 9-0, Indiana has gone into a late-season slump in going 8-13 in their last 21 games. With rumors of in-fighting among players and discussions about Frank Vogel’s future, Indiana is coming apart faster than a IndyCar racing tire. Perhaps the young Pacers read too much of their proverbial press clippings and got too hot too fast, based on their play, they mistook their desire for home court in the East for a IRL race and not a marathon, the way the Heat have.
For all of their flakiness and flash, the Heat are still in the heads of Indiana, as they physically, psychologically and emotionally psyched out the intransigent Pacers, the way Valdemort haunted and harried Harry Potter. This writer likes and respects the Pacers and their rising star Paul George, but never bought into the hype of him being a “super star” after his seven-game battle against the King last spring.
While it did put George on the map of stars, James and the Heat are in another galaxy and Andromeda entirely.
What is clearly the ailment that haunts the Pacers—and will continue to do so—is their lack of a quality wing scorer to help take some of the—pardon the pun—heat off of George, as George Hill, Lance Stephenson and Evan Turner clearly are not the answers. While Roy Hibbert is an imposing figure in the paint, it’s a sad day when the Ringo of the “Big Three” in Chris Bosh gets going and dominates you on the block.
While the Pacers have the concept to beat the Heat, their lack of mental toughness, immaturity and lack of a secondary scorer opposite George, will ultimately fall short against a full-strength Heat team—with Dwyane Wade—in another post-season meltdown.
In the case of the Pacers, they started out too hot, too fast in wanted the pole position of being No.1 in the East, while the Heat came up from behind and cruised to the snatch their much-desired checkered flag. Now having to watch the Heat take a victory lap in the winner’s circle, will the Pacers grow up in time to respond?
Robert D. Cobb Is the CEO/Founder/Senior Editor-In-Chief of the InscriberMag : Digital Magazine and a member of the PFWA(Pro Football Writers Association), please follow him on Twitter at @RC_TheInscriberMag