Pacers poised and in position
Remember those days when the Pacers rolled over their opponents with ease, control, and deadly teamwork? It wasnâ€™t too long ago when Reggie, Rik, Mark, Jalen, Dale, and others would consistently play the most beautiful game of basketball that would be to perfection. Consistently they would challenge for the top spot in the Eastern Conference, only to dramatically lose late in the playoffs. But their tireless effort finally proved worthwhile when they went to the NBA Finals in 2000, only to lose to the Lakers. But that team had amazing team chemistry that made them amazing to watch.
Three years later, and after what seemed to be an eternity, the Pacers are once again on the verge of greatness and dominance in the NBA. This time, however, this team is filled with wonderful, young athletes with potential far exceeding the previous Pacer teams, and most teams right now. This would expect one to believe that they would be Finals quality material. But they have not lived up to their possibilities that could have happened.
As soon as the Finals were over, the team mostly dismantled and was left with few stars. Reggie, Jalen, and Austin were the three main stars left on team. Dale was traded to Portland for the young, unproven Jermaine Oâ€™Neal, letting skeptics pounce all over Pacer management. Donnie Walsh and company wanted to be able to preserve some of the elder statesmen, yet start in a new direction by trying to get younger. With Jermaine, Al, Jonathon, and Tinsley, they tried to start over without having to be dysfunctional and terrible team.
This new route also called for a new coach to tame this team and put them together into a team that would compete. The man chosen for this was Isiah Thomas. It was his task to bring all of the numerous talents on this team to perform and mature together. So he studiously worked to find a way to put this team to the top.
The first year produced mixed results. Overall, they did do well in the standings. But thanks to the astounding executions of Uncle Reg, they made the playoffs, only to lose in the first round. Though this happened, there was a lot to be content with. We saw glimpses of what Jermaine was able to do, as well as Al. The second year was pretty much similar to the first, until about February. At that time, Donnie felt that we needed a change. So, a major trade was concocted where we sent Jalen and Travis Best to Chicago for Brad Miller, Ron Artest, Ron Mercer, and Kevin Ollie.
As soon as this happened, the Pacers turned into a very promising team. Jermaine completely took over the games when switching over to the power forward position, and the Pacers became a strong team. The beginning of the next year marked the time where they became one of the elite teams in the NBA, at one time beating the undefeated Mavericks to claim the best team. All was well until the second half of the year, when the team unraveled in an instant. Individual players were being affected, making the team become a mess. Artest was having major discipline problems, Jermaineâ€™s father shot himself, Croshereâ€™s father died, and Tinsleyâ€™s mother died as well. This all culminated into a poor playing team where selfishness prevailed another first round playoff loss to the underdog Boston Celtics.
It was obvious after this season that changes needed to be made, and the first came at head coach. Isiah was fired and was replaced by former Pacers assistant Rick Carlisle. Carlisle had immediate success when coaching Detroit the last two years to fifty win seasons, and there is no indication why Indiana cannot do that as well. He has an uncanny ability to put together a team game, where everyone plays as one, and they all know their individual and team roles.
Now that Carlisle is here, the Pacers have a remarkable chance to demonstrate that they are one of the elite teams in the NBA. They have one of the deepest and most talented teams in the league, and when that is put together with a good coach, they could be deadly. With Jermaine starting to be one of the newest superstars, look for a much improved Tinsley, who has been working about this summer. Croshere will likely be back to pre-Finals form, so the will be a nice addition. Along with the acquisitions of Anthony Johnson and Kenny Anderson, the point guard situation has become more stable. And with Reggie likely back to his old self, the Indiana Pacers are primed to be on the top of the league this year.
BTW has anyone realized that the format for PacersDigest is like the same as CL's? Man, that's funny.