Midway through the season the Indiana Pacers looked like the team that was going to end the dominating run of the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference.
All of that ended last week when the Heat wiped the floor with the Pacers in an embarrassing game six win in Miami.
Last season the Pacers pushed the Heat to game seven in the Eastern Conference finals and were the clear-cut favorite to challenge the Heat for the Eastern Conference crown this year. It started out well, but out of nowhere everything seemed to go south.
There are many factors that played into Indiana’s collapse, but the biggest three are the one’s that deserve the most credit. So, in no particular order, these are the factors that most greatly contributed to the Pacer’s amazing finish.
Danny Granger. Don’t look away yet, Granger used to be the franchise player for the Pacers and was always their leader. Paul George came on the scene and stole the spotlight, but even in the midst of George’s supremacy on the court Granger was still the leader in the locker room.
The Pacers decided to make a mid-season move and ship Granger off, leaving a hole in the team that Evan Turner could not fill.
And that is another issue there, Evan Turner was never a good fit and never seemed to fit the mold in Indiana.
The next factor that played into the demise of the Pacers is Lance Stephenson. Words can’t express how strongly I feel towards Stephenson.
Some people really love Stephenson; I on the other hand can’t stand the guy. I understand the excitement he brings to the Indiana crowd and the energy he brings the team, but the reality is he is the most aggravating player in the league.
He has loads of talent and plenty of potential, but he still has a long way to go to reach the next level.
A third factor is Roy Hibbert. Roy Hibbert has been missing for several months now, the last sighting of him was sometime in the regular season, but he has since gone missing during the playoffs. Hibbert might be the only 7’2 center to struggle with getting rebounds in the NBA.
He had a pretty good showing in this year’s playoffs, having multiple games where he did not score a single point, if anything he has pretty much been dragging up and down the court.
He’s just a 7-2 monster that can barely move his feet. Hibbert hasn’t always been this disappointing, but something happened to him this season and it really messed with his psyche.
Maybe it was the Pacers signing Andrew Bynum and putting pressure on him to perform, but the point is that he is easily the biggest waste of a 7-2 body.
Cases can be made for both George Hill and Frank Vogel, but we will save those for another time.
The only parts of the team that are safe from criticism (in my mind) are Paul George — of course — and David West.
George is quite simply one of the best players in the game and West is the model of consistency for the Pacers, if there is anyone to blame it wouldn’t be them.
The reality is that the Pacers blew it. They were meant to dethrone the Heat and represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals, but instead Miami is going to their fourth straight NBA Finals.
Nothing new of course, what more do you expect.
Tyler Rollason is a Winder-Barrow High School graduate and mass communications major at the University of West Georgia. He writes a weekly sports column for the Barrow Journal. You can e-mail comments about this column to firstname.lastname@example.org.