For the first time in what seems like forever, the NBA trade deadline has come and gone and I’m glad the Indiana Pacers came away empty handed. Nothing the Pacers were rumored in was going to make them any better than they are now. More important to this organization than adding a little help was sacrificing or gambling on team chemistry. Pacer fans, we have a team dedicated to bringing a title here. Not individuals trying to a notch to their “legend”, but a team that puts the W before the PPG.
The reports cite that, in the end, team chemistry was valued most in this locker room. There’s a belief that if there’s a problem, this team and coaching staff can figure it out. And, this season has shown folks like me, that the front office knows what they’re doing. Early in the season with the poor start, people (myself included) were clamoring for a move or a change. So far, aside from Gerald Green, everything has come together with time. But in the case of Green, he’s canceled out by the rookie Orlando Johnson stepping up.
What deals were on the table for the Pacers?
They were one of the big players in the JJ Redick sweepstakes. JJ would have been nice, but what do you lose if he walks at the end of the season? If they were only wanting a draft pick from the Pacers, I wouldn’t have minded giving one up. I mean, look how well our first rounder has turned out this year. If they wanted one of our players that actually contribute (let’s face it, when the Pacers bring up the name Gerald Green, I’m sure its met with laughter or a click with dial tone), I’d likely say no thanks. Tyler Hansbrough, in the final year of his contract and questionable whether the Pacers have interest in bringing him back, may have been okay to send because of the recent strong play of Jeff Pendergraph. However, Jeff’s knees are still an uncertainty with heavy playing time.
Another deal had the Lakers baiting Chris Duhon or Steve Blake for DJ Augustin (an expiring contract). I’ve never been a fan of Duhon. And he’d be a big time downgrade in my opinion. Blake may or may not have been a wash. With a point guard getting swapped in the late season like this, they may not have enough time to get familiar with each other. I’ve always been a fan of Blake, but I don’t know if he’d work right away.
I think a key reason they’re claiming “chemistry” is the defense. The Pacers boast one of the best defenses in the league (if not the best as I am typing this). The 2nd unit may have its offensive woes, but they are able to maintain the intensity the starters bring. One weak link could really bust this good thing they have going. Defense is what has this team playing championship basketball first and foremost, so if that’s not broke, lets not fix.
If you’re #2 in the East and playing the best D in the league, why MUST something be done. The Pacers are in good shape, not in desperation, not needing a fix. They say we need a spot up 3pt shooter. A scorer on the 2nd unit. Another all-star. Well, folks, Danny Granger returns to the lineup (tonight in Detroit). He’ll fit that description quite nicely. Plus Danny is an unselfish, “win first’, lock down defender. People act like he and Paul George can’t play together. Its not like Danny’s been shut out or is a selfish player. If Dwayne Wade and LeBron James can play together, these 2 aren’t going to have any issue. Anybody saying it will be is just trying to stir a pot.
The Pacers are gunning for the #1 seed in the East, but I think its safe to say we’ll likely be standing at #2 or #3 by seasons end (barring an unforeseen big injury). This team should be expecting to be in the Eastern Conference Finals. They badly want the Heat, and this is likely where they’ll face them. I’m pretty sure when the Pacers meet up with Miami in the playoffs, they will beat them. That’s been their whole focus of the offseason and regular season. And when it comes down to it, I believe they’re the hungrier team. They are able to cause them fits and cancel out everyone but LeBron James and Dwayne Wade, but give them problems closing off outlets and shutting them down in transition.
What about the other possible matchups. Here’s a quick run down of the rest of the teams in the playoffs and how the Pacers would match up in a series.
New York Knicks – This can be a tough team if it wants to be. However, they’re full of egos and have a hard time keeping their heads on straight in highly competitive situations. If they get their act together this could be a tough out for the Pacers.
Brooklyn Nets – This is a team that scares nobody in a 7 game series. Its got a wannabe flash roster, but is a team that could easily be taken out. I know the Pacers are 0-2 against them this year, but come playoff time I think they could be knocked off by an 8 seed if that was to happen.
Chicago Bulls – Does Derrick Rose come back or not? If he does or doesn’t I still see them as a team that goes down in 7 in the first round or makes it to the 2nd round but not much noise made. I don’t think Derrick Rose’s return would make that big of an impact this season. Maybe an extra round or game or 2 in the playoffs difference. Hard to gauge without seeing him play.
Atlanta Hawks – They’ve always seemed to have the Pacers number. However, in series with home court advantage, I like the Pacers in 6 against them.
Boston Celtics – A team that might turn it on a bit in the playoffs. I think they’re potentially the most dangerous team in the 2nd half. May be able to take out whoever they play. “Just get to the playoffs” is definitely a way to describe them.
Milwaukee Bucks – A team that could easily get swept by the top 3. I could see them taking out Brooklyn but nobody else. They added JJ Redick, giving their roster 3 backcourt chuckers. Aside from offloading a bunch of contracts, I don’t see why they were after him so hard. Didn’t make a lot of sense.
The Pacers can make the jump to the Eastern Conference Finals. It would be great to see them hit the 50 win mark, which is attainable if they keep at the pace they are going. This team is strong an determined. They won’t just settle with wins or getting to the playoffs or even the East Finals. They want a championship. They keep each other in check and hold each other accountable. They work together to fight for the W. They help on defense, they share the ball on offense. They exhibit the chemistry of a champion.