But the gloomy message from Saturday is maybe the Pacers can’t adjust, or recover, or fix. An irreversible swoon.
Because it was supposed to be different when the postseason dawned in Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Pacers had come through their dark days stronger, wiser, more confident, back on task, after the No. 1 seed plopped into their laps. Theoretically.
What was it Frank Vogel said beforehand, about whether the Pacers would need any words of inspiration?
“Just the atmosphere of the playoffs will work that.”
Then they went out and were thumped by the Hawks. One minute, Indiana was supposedly primed and revived for crunch time. The next, it was behind 20 points.
Plan B, anyone?
“We can’t change who we’ve been all year,” West said. “We’ve got enough. We’ve got to put together more solid stretches.”
Maybe they no longer can. Just a thought. Clearly, whatever the answer they’ve been looking for in the past troubled weeks is not easy to find. The Pacers are not only a puzzle, they are a five-star difficulty puzzle.
Trying to explain all the rebounds that got away from Indiana, Roy Hibbert finally sighed, “I really don’t know what to say.”
Vogel mentioned, “I’m a little surprised we didn’t play better.”
The Pacers had gold shirts for all the customers Saturday night, hoping for a reboot from the season. It looked as if the game was being played in the middle of a wheat field. But there was nothing golden about the offense that went numb. The defense that gave up 30 points in the third period. Or how the Hawks beat the Pacers to so many 50-50 balls, the ratio had to be changed to 80-20.
So now what?
“I think we’re all right,” West said. “We talked a little bit after the game. We can’t just be in here like mutes. We’ve got to talk. That’s one of the strengths of this group. We immediately start preparing for the next challenge and the next game. We have to have open communications.”