To say that the Indiana Pacers had a rough March would be an understatement. This team completely fell apart.
A tight knit group of players came unhinged and stopped trusting one another. Bob Kravitz nailed the issues in his piece on Tuesday. This team is a joke right now.
We could go over the woes again and again, but by this point everyone is familiar with the problems. The offense stinks and the Pacers have scored more than 80 points just once in the past six games.
The Pacers lost a three game lead over Miami in just five days. The players won’t stop pointing fingers at one another and are airing their dirty laundry in public rather than taking care of the issues behind closed doors.
When will this come to an end? At what point do the coaches and management sit everyone down to smack some sense into this admittedly very young team?
Here’s what needs to change:
- Stop Talking. Stop the finger pointing. Stop calling people selfish. Basically the Pacers should stop talking altogether, because nothing positive or helpful has been said to the media lately. Roy Hibbert has been the biggest offender of this lately as well. Maybe he should stop calling out other players and worry more about his 9.7 points and 4.5 rebounds per game in March. You don’t get to call someone out if you’re putting up putrid numbers.
- Get Paul George some help. He is in a massive shooting slump and its a very much a fixable issue. First, he’s making the game a lot harder than it needs to be and taking a ton of horrible shots. Second, watch this video:
As you can see, something is off. George hired Mike Penberty to help him with his jumper, and its clear that he needs more assistance right now. He could start by taking more inside shots to build his confidence. He has been settling for bad jumpers for far too long now.
- Regain the Trust. When the season started, this was a close knit group of guys. They clearly loved being around each other and even refused to do individual interviews with ESPN wanting to appear as a team. There were chest bumps and high fives after big plays. Now we have players glaring at each other and getting into arguments on the bench. This team used to have fun on the court, but now they seem to hate each other. Make them do some team building exercises. Maybe some trust falls or one of those corporate retreats with paintball. Group therapy wouldn’t be a bad idea either. It certainly couldn’t hurt at this point in the season.
- Management and Coaching. Clearly the on court adjustments are not working for the Pacers right now. Coach Frank Vogel’s nice guy positive routine isn’t cutting it anymore. This team needs to purge all the negativity. If that means locking everyone in a room together until every issue has been expressed, then so be it. If the players are going to act like children, then treat them as such.
- Grow up. This is a very young team that is clearly not dealing very well with success. Even the supposed veteran leader, David West, has been playing poorly and talking too much to the media. This team had goals last fall and they’ve forgotten what they are fighting for. If you have an issue with a teammate, talk to that person not some reporter. It is past time for Larry Bird to rain some fire and brimstone upon these players. Hearing that the Legend is disappointed in you has to be worse than hearing it from 10 fathers. He’s called this team out before and its produced results, but Bird has been oddly quiet lately. Both him and Vogel need to grab these guys attention and it should have happened weeks ago.
- But don’t grab it in the way that PTI did yesterday with their April Fool’s day joke. Tony Kornheiser and Mike Wilbon nearly got everyone by saying that Vogel had been reassigned and Bird would take over coaching responsibilities. Great prank, but just a tad too extreme.
The Pacers still have a chance to make a statement in the post season. They still have a very talented team, but they need to stop playing like a bunch of individuals. The lack of focus and sniping at one another has to stop immediately.
Tonight they face a Detroit team that really isn’t that good, but the last time they met the Pacers had to rally from a 25-point deficit to win it in overtime. The Pistons are just two games removed from losing to the 76ers, who snapped a 26-game losing streak with that win. If ever there was a must win game, its tonight for the Pacers.