INDIANAPOLIS — So now what?
The NBA playoffs began Saturday night, and nothing had changed. They are still the Indiana Puzzles. They are still the enigma that no one can explain, least of all themselves. They are still a shadow of December, only now, the defeats start to really hurt.
It did not take long for the Pacers to hit the first postseason crossroads. Three hours into the playoffs. They lose Game 2 Tuesday night to the Atlanta Hawks, they go down 2-0 at home, the word “collapse” will start to get bandied about, if it hasn’t been already. What a phrase to use for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.
As it is, to survive this series, the Pacers will have to win at least once on the road, where they have dropped seven of their last nine games. But that was the regular season, and this is different. Right? Right?
Anyone know where the panic button is?
OK, that’s a little premature.
Anyone know where the deeply concerned button is? Because nothing has changed.
The Pacers say they understand. The say, correctly, that the 101-93 sink of dirty dishes Saturday night was just one game.
“It isn’t the NCAA,” George Hill said. “One game doesn’t mean we’re out of the playoffs.”
True. But then again, it was not just one game. Rather it was one more game, in a long slide that keeps defying explanation. At the beginning of the season, Indiana was a fascinating story because of how well it was playing. Lately, the Pacers are a fascinating story because of how poorly they’re playing.
It is entirely possible that Game 1 ends up a mirage. Happens all the time. Teams adjust, teams recover, teams fix.
“This is why it’s a long series,” David West said.