Rites of Passage: The Indiana Pacers

Posted by C.L. Anthony on Saturday, February 15, 2014 with No comments

Paul George on a possible rematch with the Miami Heat:

“To be honest,” George said, “I wish we could speed it up to that.”



There are times when one can simply tell, the ascension if you will can't be stopped, the momentum is too great coming towards you with the kinetic energy of a monster ocean wave.  It was the night of  June 3rd 2013 when the Indiana Pacers walked off of the court of the American Airlines Arena with their heads down having been soundly defeated by the defending and eventual NBA Champion Miami Heat.  Despite the score reflecting 99-76 on that night, the score however was not settled but yet the latest seeds were planted, seeds that would grow throughout the off season in the form of Luis Scola and C.J. Watson, seeds that would continue with the maturation of Lance Stephenson and the alpha dog mentality of the new "franchise" Paul George.  From that moment on the Indiana Pacers only goal became revenge in the form of dethroning the now two time defending NBA Champion Heat.


All eventual NBA Champions must go through the championship steps, the rites of passage and feel the pain that was felt on June 3rd by the Pacers.  Adversity creates character, makes one more determined and makes the taste of success that much sweeter and at this time there's no doubt about what is fueling the Pacers as they're tearing through the NBA like no other Pacer team has done before.  Thus far this season they've amassed impressive wins over the Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets and the defending 2 time NBA Champion Miami Heat.  Some would argue that the Pacers schedule has been "soft" thus far but one thing is certain, they're well on their way to accomplishing at least one of their goals.....home-court advantage in the inevitable showdown with the Miami Heat.

The reigning NBA's Most Improved Player is still.....improving.  Paul George's ascension continues and now he is considered a top 3 MVP candidate due to supreme athleticism and being a true two way player unlike a false prophet who is currently leading the league in scoring.  Paul George is the real deal and the next in line to lead the league into the future.  Big man Roy Hibbert is normal by day and against the majority of the teams in the NBA but when he faces the Heat, Hibbert transforms into a poor man's Shaquille O'Neal, dominating the paint like he's fighting off an intruder from breaking into one's home.  Adding bulk to an already imposing frame, Hibbert not only wants to defeat the Heat, he wants to pound them into submission.  The formerly erratic Lance Stephenson has just begun to scratch the surface of his potential and has become somewhat of a triple double machine this season and has also reached All-Star status along with George.  

The more things change, the more they stay the same

In a respectful way the Indiana Pacers have called out the Heat multiple times this season as a little brother clamors to defeat his older brother in playground fun.  There's no doubt that they're knocking on the door.  Paul George was once asked if he thinks the Heat can defeat the Pacers with a possible Game 7 being in Indiana:

“We don’t,” George said. “I mean, we know how well we play at home. We’re one of the best teams in the postseason last year defending our home court. We just know how big home-court advantage is when it comes down to postseason. That’s one of our main goals this year is to lock up the first seed so we can have the opportunity to play at home throughout the whole playoffs.”

In the world of the NBA parallels can always be made.  Year over year teams fighting for the right to be called champion can always be compared to other long past due to similar paths to greatness and also similar falls from grace.  This current incarnation of the Pacers reminds one of the 2005-06 Miami Heat team.  At that time the Detroit Pistons were the Beasts of the East and were in the middle of their run of 6 consecutive trips to the NBA's Eastern Conference Finals.  The prior season the Miami Heat held the Eastern Conference's best record and hosted Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals in American Airlines Arena.  Having a lead of more than 10 in the deciding 4th quarter, the Heat seemed destined to advance to their first ever NBA Finals but the Basketball Gods would not have it.  The Detroit Pistons stormed back and erased a 7 point deficit with a little over two minutes remaining to stun the prideful Heat.  It was a Monday, June 6th of 2005 and the Miami Heat walked off of the court of the American Airlines Arena with their heads down having been soundly defeated by a former champion.  Despite the score reflecting 88-82 on that night, the score however was not settled but yet the latest seeds were planted, seeds that would grow throughout the off season in the form of Antoine Walker and Jason William, seeds that would continue with the maturation of Dwyane Wade and the alpha dog mentality of the aging Shaquille O'Neal.  From that moment on the Miami Heat's only goal became revenge in the form of dethroning the reigning Eastern Conference Champions.

Despite having the 
second best record in the Eastern Conference, the 2005-06 Miami Heat had one goal in mind, defeating the Detroit Pistons.  The eventual rematch took place in that season's Eastern Conference Finals with the Heat using pure will power to move past the Pistons in six games.  A singular focus among fifteen men is what it took for the Heat to vanquish the Pistons and it's that same focus that should propel the Indiana Pacers to their winning their first ever NBA Championship.  The Pacers feel as if this is their time, their destiny to take the next step and become only the 9th NBA franchise to win the elusive championship in the last 30 years.  There's no doubt that this season's Eastern Conference Finals will be in fact the De facto NBA Finals as the winner will most likely move on the win the championship.  The only question that remains will be......which franchise will walk off of the court with their heads down having been soundly defeated by the eventual NBA Champion?