What the hell is wrong with the Indiana Pacers? Midway through the season analysts and fans were ready to crown them the Eastern Conference champs. Paul George was being placed in MVP talks with the likes of Kevin Durant and LeBron James. Frank Vogel was the front runner for coach of the year and all was right in in Indiana. Then everything went sour after the all-star break which has caused a seismic breakdown rarely seen by a top seeded playoff team. Fast-forward to today and the Pacers find themselves in a dogfight of a series with the lowly Hawks. These are the same Hawks who limped into the eight seed with a losing record. So where did the Pacers go wrong?
For starters they simply cannot score on a consistent basis. Their offense has become a stagnate one on one stylistic mess. Center Roy Hibbert has completely fallen off the map. After averaging 17 points and 10 rebounds in his previous playoff stints, this season Hibbert is averaging a lowly 6 points and 4 rebounds on 28% shooting. He plays with noticeable frustration with his “selfish” teammates, and has been regulated to the bench in the most crucial stretches of games. The lack of point guard play has significantly impeded Indian’s ability to string to together coherent possessions.
The severe amount of pressure is clearly weighing the team and its coach down. As the legendary Uncle Ben once said “with great power comes great responsibility,” and the Pacers are failing to live up to their one seed. It has been said that 2 year head coach Frank Vogel is coaching for his job and a first round exit would certainly mean a coaching change. This has forced Vogel to make rash decisions i.e. benching Hibbert in the fourth, trying to ensure they don’t become the sixth 1 seed to fall to an 8 seed. Even if the Pacers manage to escape the Hawks (the series is tied 2-2), I don’t see them contending for a title. The fall from grace has been too great for them to rebound and challenge the two time defending Miami Heat.