The Pacers avoided a total nuclear meltdown Wednesday night, snapping a 3-game losing streak with a 101-94 win over the Pistons. It was the first occasion Indiana scored in triple digits since March 15 (also against Detroit). Prior to that, the Pacers were in a full-on funk, going 8-10 in March and losing control of the Eastern Conference’s top seed. After tonight’s game in Toronto, Indiana has just five regular season games remaining. Do the Pacers need to continue soul-searching, or was their March swoon much ado about nothing? Daily Reporter sports editor Brian Harmon and DR sportswriter Grant Freking weigh in.
BRIAN: In sports, things are rarely as extreme as we - fans, media - make them out to be. The Pacers are not the team that opened the season 33-7, which would make them the fifth best regular season team in NBA history based on winning percentage had they maintained. They’re also not quite as bad as the stink fest we’ve seen the last six weeks. Indiana is not an elite team, but they’re good to very good, and in the Eastern Conference that’s enough for a trip back to the Conference Finals. The win over Detroit was probably the first sign of the team regaining its bearings and leveling off toward the start of the playoffs. The Pistons aren’t much worse than what the Pacers will encounter in the first round of the playoffs, so expect more ugly wins, but wins nonetheless. Grant, what say you?
GRANT: Put me squarely in the camp that Wednesday’s win over the Pistons doesn’t mean much except to keep the Pacers out of DEFCON 1. Detroit is the seventh-worst team in the league in defensive efficiency – not exactly elite – so Indiana was bound to find some openings Wednesday. The alarming thing to me about the team’s March misfortunes was the quotes coming of the locker room. After Monday’s blowout loss to the Spurs, Roy Hibbert said, “It’s awful, we’ve been in a downward spiral and we’ve been splintering a little bit.” Following a completely unexplainable 14-point setback in Cleveland Sunday, Lance Stephenson said, “We’re lost right now.” Brian, is this as simple as a still-young team getting a tad overconfident with its newfound top dog status?