The Indiana Pacers don’t come off as a team that you need to worry about. They’re such a deep team, with great veteran leadership, that you kind of assume that this recent three-game losing streak is just a minor bump on the road. And while it likely is, Paul George and David West aren’t going to let it go down this way.
The Pacers have lost their last two games by a combined 50 points. That usually doesn’t happen to a championship caliber squad. At least it shouldn’t.
And both George and West know that.
I guess losing by 26 to the Houston Rockets was the preverbal final straw.
It started with Paul George and David West, two of the Indiana Pacers’ veteran leaders, crowding inside the small visiting coach’s locker room.
With their ankles still taped and their uniforms still on, there was an impromptu meeting taking place with hushed tones and grim faces. Sitting with his shoulder in ice at his locker, George Hill noticed and went over and slipped into the room. Then Roy Hibbert got up from his seat and stuck his head in.
Ten minutes passed, then 15. The team with the NBA’s best record is in its first legitimate funk of the year and it’s shaking the players up.
Yes, the 46-16 Pacers had a locker room meeting, probably a players-only meeting. The same meetings that you saw the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets have in the beginning of the season. While nothing really changed for both teams, you’d expect it to change for the Pacers.
“We haven’t talked about the [No. 1 seed] in awhile,” Hibbert said. “We just need to win games at this point. Something has got to change. Something is going to be addressed.”
“We have to get back to what the Indiana Pacers used to be,” George said. “When teams came to play us, they knew it was going to be a long night.”
The bottom line is just that. The Pacers need to get back to being the Indiana Pacers. The team that was so feared by the Miami Heat and the team that was just going to beat you up both mentally and physically on a night-to-night basis. They haven’t been that.
But if the Pacers have their mind on a deep playoff run, they better re-find their identity fairly quickly. Maybe this meeting works, maybe it doesn’t. But if the Pacers don’t play up start playing to their potential again, none of this really matters.
At the end of the day, the Pacers just need to play better. That’s all it comes down to. They have the talent and the ability.
Pacers coach Frank Vogel said that every team that the Pacers are playing is playing above their potential. Uhm, yea, that’s what teams like the Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder go through night-in and night-out.
If Indiana wants to view themselves as a championship contender, Vogel can’t play that card. Instead, they simply have to play better.