The Pacers’ 42-40 record qualified them for the playoffs, with a seventh place ranking in the NBA Eastern Division. The Boston Celtics were top ranked in the East with a 53-29 record. The Cleveland Cavaliers 51-31 record and the second seed in the East playoffs. Of course the two Goliaths of the NBA are Golden State with an imposing 67-15 and the San Antonio Spurs with a 61-21 record that in most years would put them on top of the hill. It will probably be the Warriors who take the hardware back to the Bay Area, but anything can happen.
So the Pacers opened the “second season” in Cleveland and as of this writing they are down 2-zip. Not surprising actually, but the fact of the matter is that the Cavs have played some pretty sloppy basketball in those two games, and the Pacers have not been able to capitalize on the Cav’s lack of effort. It hasn’t helped that the refs have had sort of a blind eye toward some Cleveland rule violations, most notably LeBron James and his penchant for traveling. LeBron has always been known for his tendency to hold and carry the ball while setting up to shoot. Some have suggested that the NBA add a statistic for LeBron for him leading the league in rushing as an NFL running back might do. But Mr. James is a superstar and the fans want to see him play unhindered. The fact is that Indiana can’t blame officiating for their series record. Cleveland is just a better team.
Adding to the stress, the Pacers had to remain in their hotel Sunday night as Cleveland police searched for the “Facebook Killer” Steve Stephens. Thirty-seven-year old Steve Stephens shot and killed a 71-year-old man on Sunday and then posted a video of the deed for the world to see on social media. Local authorities feared that the vicious wacko might try to shed some famous blood before they could capture him (he killed himself in Pennsylvania April 18).
The 2017-18 season will be the last year for George’s Pacer contract. How that will play out is anyone’s guess. It is all up to Larry Bird as to whether or not George is resigned or the team lets him walk. No matter what happens, #24 is in for a really big payday.
After a mistake-filled third quarter, Lance Stephenson came apart at the seams. Lance was told by coaches and teammates that he has to calm down and keep control of himself. Stephenson has always had talent but his inability to keep control of himself has kept him from becoming the great player that he could be. He is 26 and in his seventh NBA season. He has played for five other teams. I just do not think he will ever really “get control” of himself and his NBA career is on the down slide.
Colts Sign Free Agent Defensive Tackle
The Colts filled a big hole in the defensive line with the signing of former New York Giant Jonathan Hankins. Hankins was considered one of the top free agents available. The Giants selected the former Ohio State star in the second round of the 2013 draft with the 49th pick. Listed as 6 foot two and a half inches tall and 320 pounds, Hankins showed well as both a run stuffer and pass rusher for the Giants, The Colts signed Hankins to a 3 year, $30 million deal. It’s hoped that Hankins will do what former Horseshoe defender Arthur Jones was unable to do due to injuries — that he will become a strong presence on the defensive line. After three injury-filled seasons with the team, Jones was released at the beginning of the month.
Don’t look for GM Chris Ballard to do any more free agent signings until after the draft which will be coming up on Thursday, April 27th. Ballard has made some helpful signings for the team already, but now it’s time to concentrate on the young talent coming into the league. A lot of talented defensive players are available and that is good news for the Colts.