Mark's Mailbag: End of Season Edition
by Mark Montieth | firstname.lastname@example.org
June 6, 2013
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Q. You know, Hoosiers know basketball and what they see. Grabbing, holding, pushing, offensive fouls that turn into fouls on our defenders and flops are evident to those of us who have played. What makes you think the league will let the Pacers win the Eastern Conference finals when the odds are so high against us in Vegas?
A. I think you shouldn't say that too loudly, or you might get hurt by an angry fan.
A. Your question came in shortly after the last mailbag, so it's a bit outdated. However, it's worth revisiting even in the wake of the Pacers' loss to Miami.
I just don't get the conspiracy theories. Do you really think the NBA manipulates the outcomes of playoff games? Do you realize the severity of that accusation? It's a felony. It would all but ruin the league, and send people to jail. How would it happen? Does David Stern telephone or e-mail the referees and tell them who needs to win each series? If such a thing were happening, someone would expose it and make a lot of money selling the story.
Three of the four final teams in the playoffs were from small markets. The Pacers-Heat series went to a seventh game. I don't think the league convinced the Pacers to commit all those turnovers in Game 7 or somehow got Ray Allen to come up with a hot hand after shooting poorly earlier in the series. If you want to focus on officiating, the Pacers got as many “breaks” as the Heat did in the series, but fans aren't likely to recognize that given their built-in biases.
We've somehow got to get over this mass paranoia. There's no doubt the league wants the larger market teams to be strong, but to accuse it of rigging the outcomes or the draft is another thing entirely. If the league were actually doing this, it's doing a lousy job, because the Knicks haven't won a title since 1973 and San Antonio is going for its fifth this year.
The advantage that larger-market teams have is that free agents are more likely to want to play in L.A., New York, Chicago or Miami. I don't think we'll see a group of star players get together and sign contracts with Milwaukee, for example. The league doesn't control that, however.
Hey, sometimes you lose. And, usually, a cigar is just a cigar.
Q. Have you and the rest of the Indy media forgotten the fact that at a time when the Pacers are starving for more offense and bench production they have an explosive scorer in Gerald Green inexplicably sitting on the bench and collecting CD-DNPs every night while vastly inferior and completely useless players like Sam Young take his playing time? What a sad joke this situation is -- Green is a 10x better player than Young.
Recall that Green turned in a brilliant 34-point performance to end the regular season and supposedly cement his place in the playoff rotation. Green then proceeded to come off the bench to score double figures in each of the Pacers first three playoff games, including a particularly outstanding Game 2 against Atlanta where Green played as well as any player on the floor and was drawing raves from the national TV media. During this stretch, Green was also the Pacers best and most prolific three point shooter.
Suddenly in Game 4 of the Atlanta series, Green was completely benched for no good reason and has never been heard from again for the entire rest of the playoffs, no matter how poorly and unproductively players like Young, Stephenson, and Augustin have played. I've never seen anything quite like this mistreatment of Gerald Green.
Frank Vogel is committing the one unforgivable sin of coaching -- namely, losing games without having your best lineup on the floor.
Based on the Pacers complete misuse and mistreatment of Gerald Green, they quite simply don't deserve to beat a team like Miami.
A. Green had an interesting season for the Pacers. He scored in double figures 12 times, but averaged seven points in 18 minutes per game. No doubt he and the Pacers were hoping for more production when he signed over the summer.
The “problem” with Green is that he didn't defend up to the team's standard, and tended to stray from the offensive system. That 34-point game supported that theory is that he can produce in a “garbage time” situation but not in crunch time. Sam Young got the call in the playoffs because he's a better defender.
Green has two years left on his contract, so there's time for him to find a place in the rotation. His field goal and three-point percentages dropped this season, to 37% and 31%, and that will need to improve. He seemed to have a good attitude when he wasn't playing, and is a good guy, so hopefully it works out.
Q. Thank you for the great articles during this fantastic playoff run. I grew up and still live here in Indy. It hurts today, but the month of May we had reminds me of the Reggie years. I hope they can stay healthy.
A. Thanks for your interest. Health will be a major element of their success, as with any team.
Q. Just wanted to thank you for the recent article on the Pacers and hitting another sweet spot. If you get a chance, would you let them know there is an ardent fan in Utah who has followed them since 1987 and, right now, I couldn't be prouder of them. They give a new meaning to 'team' --- especially when everyone says you can't make it through the playoffs with a 'go-to' guy. Personally, I like Vogel's response when asked who the go-to guy was . . . the one who's open!
How about Pacers regular season ABA triple-doubles? I am really curious to see that list. Perhaps in some of the future blog posts?
A. You just let them know yourself, thanks to the magic of the internet. Well, the internet and the guy who posted this mailbag on Pacers.com.
I agree, a team does not need to have a go-to player for end-of-game situations. The Pacers' strength is their balance. They have plenty of options for crucial possessions, and should have one more if Granger is able to return for another season.
Q. Why did Coach bench Hibbert, George, etc. in the second quarter of the final game? Tired? Perhaps the Pacers were not yet ready to face a team such as the Spurs (match-up issues) so it's best to wait until we're sure the Pacers can play for a championship and not just win the Eastern Conference finals.
A. Those guys weren't “benched,” they were just taken out of the game as part of the normal rotation. When asked about it after the game, Vogel said “That's what we've done the entire playoff run. That happened to be the time they made their run.”
I don't think there's any advantage in waiting until a team is ready to win a championship to get to the Finals. Every bit of experience a team can get helps it build for the future.
The Pacers weren't ready to beat the Heat, obviously, but it wouldn't have hurt them to survive for another round. I was surprised by the outcome of Game 7 in Miami. I didn't necessarily think they would win, but I expected it to be a close game. Still, it was another step forward, and the experience should benefit them next season. But, as David West said before Game 7, you never know if you'll get another opportunity such as that and you have to take advantage of every one you get.
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