Here's a coin. Toss it. Heads, the Indiana Pacers show up with their A game tonight. Tails, they're a train wreck. That's a reliable a way as any to predict this team.
What a way to wander through the playoffs. Twelve games in, we still don't have a clue what to expect at any given moment. Neither, it would seem, do they. The Miami Heat must be chortling.
Who are these guys? We might need DNA tests to figure out the Pacers, or a good psychoanalyst.
Everyone thought they were back. They're back, all right. Back in Washington for Game 6. Try to confidently predict what happens next. The Pacers are a team that defies description, or explanation.
Write them off as doomed, and they survive.
Question their steel, and they answer with a gem.
But expect them to win, to clinch, to move on . . . put them in a good and comfortable place . . . and they produce a dud.
Tuesday night, for instance. The 102-79 egg they laid would have made the world's biggest omelet.
"More frustrating than concerning," George Hill called it.
Frustrating, perplexing, unfathomable. The Pacers could fill up a thesaurus with their mercurial ways.
The truest words now come from David West, when asked why this keeps happening. "I don't have an answer for that," West said. "We've got to be able to handle these moments."
The Pacers are so good and so impressive. Except when they're not.
There were numbers from Game 5 that no serious championship contender should ever, ever own. Washington's astonishing 62-23 rebounding dominance, for instance. A margin that suggests a team being out-fought, or even worse, out-willed. At home. In a close-out game.
There were words that no serious championship contender should ever, ever have to say.