Hardwood Paroxysm is a bunch of maniacs that write about basketball for FanSided. Today we discuss the NBA playoffs, the NBA Draft Lottery, Heat-Pacers, Ibaka’s injury, and good ol’ Derek Fisher.
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This week: we’ve seen one game of each conference finals, and frankly, that’s all we need to know who’s moving on to the NBA Finals. Also, the NBA Draft Lottery today, and while we’re each rooting for our favorite teams, there’s a better way to figure out who drafts where — and we’re here to share that solution with you. After all, what are friends for?
Being the Indiana Pacers
by Ian Levy (@HickoryHigh)
The rumors appear to be true. The Indiana Pacers have a “Heat” gear, a special plane of collective focus and acuity that allows them to transcend their physical limits. In Game 1 they had their way the Miami Heat, leading by double-digits for much of the second half and finishing with an offensive efficiency mark of 120.6 points per 100 possessions. It was a stunningly unexpected performance, a Kevin Spacey is actually Keyser Soze kind of game.
You’re probably asking yourself the same question I am — where in the hell was this for the past three months? I’m as surprised as anyone that all five Pacers are allowed to make positive offensive contributions in the same game. It appeared some sort of rigid bylaw forbidding this had been adopted around the All-Star break. But on Sunday night there they were, cutting to the basket and actually finding open space, running pick-and-rolls and actually moving the defense, posting up their bigs and actually making entry passes that weren’t instantly converted into three-on-one fast breaks heading the other way. It was Pacers basketball, the way it looks on paper and has rarely looked in real life.
For 48 minutes we had the privilege of seeing the Pacers the way they see themselves, not so much a basketball team, but as a basketball collective, a Kibbutz of sorts. Throughout this season they have, like any good professional basketball employee, spoken in the language of sports adages and axioms. Interviews pre- and post-game are opportunities to worship at the altar of team, reciting the mantras of collaboration, movement, sharing. But then they would go out on the floor and, more often than not, short-circuit those values they professed to hold most dear. They have been their own worst enemies, alternating between an inability to get out of their own way and a stubborn refusal to actually do the things that would make them what they wanted to be; alternately incompetent and actively self-obstructionist.
Overcoming those sorts of challenges is a process. It comes through experience, sacrifice, struggle, learning and self-reflection. It comes slowly and in small pieces, each needing to be laid upon the pieces which came before. One does not simply wake up one day and manifest the most pure, idealized version of one’s self, unless of course you are Siddhartha Gautama or the Indiana Pacers playing the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals.
In that context, there are really only two choices. You can believe in the Indiana Pacers and their revelatory success. You can believe that they have found the path of true enlightenment, that The Four Noble Truths are Shorting The Pick-And-Roll, Corner Three-Pointers, Defending With Verticality, and Get Lance The Damn Ball and that their consciousness has been elevated to another plane of basketball existence. Or you can believe the opposite, that Game 1 was a waking dream or a collaborative hallucination. The Pacers were struck by lightning, bitten by a radioactive Steve Nash, or some other such silly origin story and their powers are mirage.
Their Truth will be revealed over the rest of the series and, unfortunately, there is no reconciliation in this show. The dimensions are mutually exclusive — these Pacers are or they are not.