Monday, March 26, 2012

Pacers handle the Heat

The Indiana Pacers won big over the Miami Heat tonight in front of a nearly sold out Banker Life Fieldhouse.  This win was something special as the Pacers came out and took the early lead.  The Heat never seemed to be out of the game but the Pacers were sure to control the tempo all night.  Big plays like Roy Hibbert blocking various shots, Darren Collison slamming down a dunk and Captain Barbosa hitting three, three pointers off the bench gave the crowd something to cheer about tonight.

It was the first time this year that Granger had a big night against the Heat - averaging just 9.3 points in the first three meetings; Granger lead the Pacers in scoring with 25.  This Indiana team also won the game because they played solid defense holding the Heat to 90 points.  The first two games in which the Heat destroyed the Pacers we gave up well over a 100 points in each of those games.  The previous two games the Pacers only gave up 85 and 90 points, respectively - winning one game and falling by only two points in the other game.

This Pacers team is starting to come together behind the great play of Danny Granger and Roy Hibbert.  Darren Collison has finally found his stride scoring 20 points tonight.  David West continues to be a strong team leader and the bench is lead by the Captain Barbosa and George Hill.  Paul George showed constraint and maturity tonight when he pulled back from a potential dunk with less then 30 seconds left in the game.

Overall tonight was a huge win for the Pacers as a team and their fan base winning 105 to 90 after 48 minutes of regulation.  Despite having issues with some of the elite teams this year the Pacers have had their fair share of success and look to be gelling at the right time.

P.S. Was that not the most amazing shot by Paul George at the end of the 2nd quarter? BOOM BABY!

Keys to tonight's win:
1) Defense
2) Good, selfless ball movement
3) Danny Granger being a team leader   

Indy Minute Player of the Game:
Darren Collison - The realitively little guy throw down a dunk and had 20 points, enough said.

Back of the Napkin Stats
All of the Pacers starts had double digit scoring nights
Both Paul George and David West had a double double
Barbosa lead the bench with 14 points and 3 for 7 from behind the arch

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Pacers bench puts on a show

I have to admit - I was feeling a little down about my Indiana Pacers after losing to the Knicks two nights in a row.  I was flying high after a big win over the 76er's as I watched from section 226 but then Granger opened his mouth and the Knicks put up to shut us up.  The Pacers looked bad in both losses and it looked like this young team was crumbing.  The Feildhouse has not been full most of the season but it has been energetic and recently the seats have been filling up more consistently.  It is always hard to fill up Banker's Life Feildhouse on a Tuesday night but tonight just under 15,000 fans showed up and they gave the Pacers some energy.

I was a little nervous after the Pacers blunder in front of a sold out crowd on Saturday but Captain Barbosa came off the bench to get the crowd, and the bench, rockin!  The Pacers bench outscored the Clippers bench 36 to 6 in the first half.  Hansbrough, Hill and Barbosa had huge nights behind Danny Granger who led the team with 25 points and 8 rebounds - making up for this past weekend.    

There were a lot of highlights in the game from behind the back passes to George Hill three pointers...the Pacers played good defense and hard offense.  It was pretty easy to see that this Pacers team had passion and pride in their team and the game tonight - a spark that was missing over the weekend.  The aggressive play of the Pacers got under the Clippers skin and the Clippers just could not recover.

The night was summarized nicely when Barbosa was interviewed on FSIndiana and he commented on how he had not played in front of a crowd like this in sometime.  It just shows that Pacer fans are starting to come out of the wood work.  This Pacers team has had a lot of ups and downs this year and will continue to have times that they struggle.  It is part of having a young but balanced team.  Tonight was a big win and confidence boost for the Pacers and the solid crowd on a Tuesday night!


Monday, March 19, 2012

The Skinny - Peyton is a Bronco

Colt fans it is official – Peyton Manning will be wearing blue this year but it won’t be paired with a white horseshoe.  Instead it will have the orange of the Denver Broncos.  Personally I would like to thank Peyton for all of his contributions to Indianapolis – now it is time to move on.
Indianapolis news outlets need to latch on to a new story because the Manning ship has set sail and landed in a new home.  Along with Manning many others have left or been released – searching and finding new homes.  The Colts that we have known and loved for the past 13 seasons are gone and young blood is going to be pumping in Lucas Oil Stadium.  Let’s start to embrace the coming of a new era because the past decade is in the books and that team has moved on.   

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Needed a Center

The Indiana Pacers traded away a second round pick to pick up guard Captain Barbosa from the Toronto Raptors.  Although I feel this is a good pick up I am a little confused.  The Indiana Pacers needed to pick up another Center to help to help out Roy Hibbert and the injured Jeff Foster.  The Pacers are fairly stacked in the guard position with Darren Collison, George Hill, A.J. Price and Lance Stephenson.  Adding Barbosa will certainly add depth but most likely take away minutes from players like A.J. Price and Lance Stephenson.  Recently the play of Price and Stephenson has been better then Collison so it will be interesting to see how Frank Vogel adjusts the rotation.

Larry Bird did make a smart decision when evaluating contracts.  Barbosa is in his final year of his contract and the Pacers have enough salary cap to pay the $7.5 million.  Then the Pacers have the choice to negotiate a new contract or let him be a free agent - not tying up salary cap next year.  It would have been nice to grab a center but this was an overall good pick up for the Pacers.       

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A young team...still growing

It's odd - I don't mind losing to the Heat in overtime on a shoot that only one of the greats can make in the last seconds of a game.  For some reason it doesn't bother me as much as losing to the Bulls or being blown out by this same Heat team.

Last night I able to watch one of the most entertaining games of the year.  Of course I was saddened as Wade hit a last second shot in overtime to beat the Pacers.  I was saddened but not angered - like I was when the Pacers allowed the Bulls to destroy them in the third quarter a few games back.  This Pacers team did everything they could to win a tough game against the best team in the NBA; everything but close the game out.

I recognize the fact that the Pacers are not one of the top 3 teams in the NBA.  Last night was proof the Pacers still have some building to do but it was also proof of something more significant for Pacer fans.  This year the Pacers have beaten some of the top teams in the league including the Bulls, Mavericks, Celtics, Hawks and Magic.  The Pacers have also struggled against teams like the Magic, Bulls (at times) and definitely the Heat.

The difference between the defeat last night and some of the other L's the Pacers have suffered this year is that they played their game.  In Chicago the Pacers forced the Bulls to play their tempo, they forced Rose to pass the ball instead of score the ball and they led at halftime.  Then the second half the Bulls controlled the ball, the tempo and the game - beating the Pacers in an ugly game.  Until last night the Heat played their game and have destroyed the Pacers in previous match ups this year.  Last night was a different story.  Last night showed that the Pacers may not be a top 3 team yet - but they are closer then many think.

The Pacers passed the ball vertically and horizontally spreading the defense so the Pacers could drive to the net.  This also opened up the three point shoots so the Pacers didn't have to force poor shoots.  They were able to contain James and Bosh throughout most of the game - unfortunately leaving Wade to have his way with the defense.  The Pacers led most of the game but just couldn't close it out.  This may be disappointing to many but we have to remember this team is young.  It needs time to continue developing and learning how to close out games.  The fact that they forced the best team into overtime to fall on a last second shoot should be encouraging. 

Finally - I have to give a shout out to Lou.  Great game Lou; you played tough!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Gut Wrenching Seperation

It is official - Peyton Manning and the Colts have signed the divorce papers.  Jim Irsay and the Colts announced today that Peyton Manning would no longer be an Indianapolis Colt.  Peyton Manning, with tears in his eyes and a lump in his throat, talked about his experiences playing in Indianapolis and how much he loves the city, the fans and the team. 

All things must end and with every ending a new beginning is born.  I personally would like to thank Peyton Manning for not only his unbelievable football play and leadership on the field but his leadership off the field.  Indianapolis can thank Manning for being a key building block of Indianapolis and its relevance in the professional sports world.  We have seen many greats go through Indianapolis including Wayne Gretzky, Jackie Robinson, Reggie Miller and now Peyton Manning.  Manning arguably did the most for this city and it is hard to dispute.  He literally brought a Super Bowl Trophy home to Indianapolis and helped build a Children's Hospital.  His presence helped Indianapolis get a new stadium, host a Super Bowl and be the talk of sports media for an entire decade.

It is with sadness in my heart to say good-bye Peyton but it is with hope that I welcome Andrew Luck.

Please comment and leave your favorite Manning memory.  My best memory of the past 14 years is when Manning led the Colts to an AFC Championship in 2006 over the New England Patriots.  The Super Bowl win was fun but beating the Patriots at home was the most rewarding victory I can remember.   

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Pacers battle back...but fall to the Hawks

It was one of those tough afternoons at work as issue after issue continued to arise delaying my departure to grab dinner with my girlfriend of two years.  To complicate the situation we were celebrating two years of being together with this dinner – and I was late.  As any man who has been in a relationship for more than a few months knows – never be late to a special dinner or you will pay. 

Tonight the Indiana Pacers had a night much like my afternoon.  After losing a tough game in Chicago the Pacers had to play a tough Atlanta team at home.  In the first half the defense looked like Swiss cheese and the Pacers fell behind to the Hawks by as many as 16.  I had a pit in my stomach as I started to think about the Pacers team that went on a five game losing streak.  Then all of a sudden the Pacers turned the game around.

Led by the scoring of David West and defensive efforts of Paul George, Roy Hibbert and Danny Granger the Pacers marched back into the game cutting the lead to 4 at halftime and took the lead late in the 3rd quarter.  The Pacers continued to eliminate the Hawks lead and then the Hawks would hit some three pointers to pull away.  In the end the Pacers weren’t able to overcome the deficit and win the game – falling to the Hawks 101 – 96.  The Pacers did get the crowds blood pumping at the end because they stopped letting the Hawks control the game. 

Tonight displayed that in order for the Pacers to continue being competitive and win games they must do the following:

1.      Play strong man to man defense   
2.      Move the ball to keep the defense on their toes, finding the open man
3.      Drive vertically and pass horizontally    

I made sure to handle issues at work in a timely manner and the dinner turned out to be a success.  Luckily I was able to turn my evening around because I have an amazing girlfriend.  The Pacers weren’t so lucky but fans should feel good about this game because after a poor start the Pacers battled back.  This young Pacers team has always done well when opening a big lead and battling in a close game but when they give up a big lead they let the opponents control the tempo.  Tonight that Pacers regained control of the game and almost pulled out a win.