The Herald Bulletin

February 5, 2014

Smashmouth the way to get a title for Indiana


The Herald Bulletin

---- — Indiana Pacers fans are driving me crazy and it really bothers me even more because I am firmly a part of their ranks.

Just because the team went through a stretch of six games where it won only half of those games, some of the fans began to dot the post-game radio show with some absolutely ridiculous suggestions and observations.

One said that center Roy Hibbert didn't deserve a place on the All-Star Team because only slightly over half the time did he outscore the other team's center. Poppycock! Hibbert is as dominant as any center in the league and he alters opponent's path to the basket in every game.

Another offered that the Pacers should entertain the idea of landing a couple of draft picks and a shooting guard in exchange for Lance Stephenson. Idiotic! On Tuesday night Atlanta resorted to double-teaming Stephenson in order to keep him from doing damage to the Hawks. How many NBA point guards get double-teamed?

My concerns about the Pacers really have nothing to do with wins and losses. Indiana has a 3.5-game advantage over Miami in the East for best record and a .5-game lead over Oklahoma City for the best record in the entire league.

My worry has been over the number of points the Pacers surrendered during the trip out West and the first game back in Indiana. There's no secret that running is the way to beat the Pacers. Teams that run don't have to face Indiana's vaunted half-court defense as often and that defense is a killer.

But the two games Indiana has played this week has removed many of those worries. Offensively the team has played better because the players have been moving and sharing the ball in a way that has been more like what we Pacers fans have seen the entire season.

Defensively is where the real improvement has come. Indiana has returned to the idea of getting into the face of the opposition and to the notion of punishing people foolhardy enough to come down the lane in search of easy baskets.

Indiana has the best team in the league. There is no doubt in my mind that this will be proven throughout the remainder of the regular season.

I am also glad that the rest of the regular season will include having Andrew Bynum to come off the bench to play with the second unit.

There have been questions about his ability to fit in. I am confident that Indiana coach Frank Vogel and Pacers GM Larry Bird are convinced Bynum can do that and I will trust them. Bynum adds another supporter to the team's "smashmouth" concept.

It is that concept that will allow the Pacers to have a strong chance to claim an NBA title a few months down the road. I am ready for that run.

Sports Editor Rick Teverbaugh can be reached at: (765) 640-4886 or at: rick.teverbaugh@heraldbulletin.com.