By Eric Williams
Back in the day the man perm was an unstoppable force of nature.
And, with all apologies to the late Rick James, when it comes to man perms few could rival John Oates of Hall and Oates fame.
After Monday night’s debacle in Miami, fans of the Blue and Gold were left lamenting the 32 points King James dropped on Indiana or the fact the league’s MVP absolutely shut down Paul George in the biggest game of his life; but my mind was on Hall and Oates.
How fitting would it have been for one of the greatest duos of the 80’s to be waiting in the Pacers tunnel as they sulked from the floor?
Perched on their stools, rocking a single amp, John Oates still looking like 1983 with Daryl Hall’s golden pipes bellowing out “So close, yet so far away”.
That’s what the Pacers were, so close, yet the Heat’s dominating performance in Game 7 made it clear Indiana remains so far away.
As great as the Pacers were, the Heat reminded them what a true Champion is.
Turnovers erased any chance Indiana had at playing for an NBA Championship, thus deep sixing what Marv Albert had already dubbed the “greatest upset in NBA Playoff History;” clearly Marv hasn’t gotten over Reggie Miller.
Forgetting Marv Albert’s misguided prophecy, and unflattering hat helmet, for a moment, up until Monday night the Indiana Pacers were on a run that seemed destined for the Finals. It could be said everything they touched turned “blue and gold.”
The 1980’s brand of smash-mouth basketball the Pacers were playing looked so effective that somewhere Chuck Daly was smiling behind a poker table while those with the most titles in front offices around the league were silently questioning their movement away from a dominating front line.
The usually outlandish and cranky Sir Charles was actually spot-on when comparing Roy Hibbert and David West’s dominating play to Russell and Chamberlain.
Mix in strong all around play from the emerging superstar Paul George, sharp shooting (at times) from George Hill and the surprising arrival of Lance Stephenson, and the Pacers quickly became the second worst nightmare Erik Spoelstra could have; the first of course being Pat Riley coming out of the stands to ask “have you seen my clipboard?”
The outcome of Monday’s game was far more than “LeBron being LeBron” or the Big Three finally engaging themselves at the same time.
It was more than the “will of a champion” or the Heat having stars and the Pacers having players who may or may not be stars depending on who you’re talking to, the day of the week and the price of oil in China.
So close, yet so far away.
It came down plain and simply to turnovers.
The Pacers were careless with the ball which would be a creative strategy to employ for any coach who actually wants to win.
Twenty-one turnovers in an elimination game can be a sign of many things. The short list includes: inexperience, youth, poor eyesight, teammates in camouflage uniforms and really, really dumb decisions.
Those who watched Indiana Monday night know the answer is “D All of the Above.”
There’s a restless look in your eyes tonight (Paul George), there’s a secret hurt in my heart (strange little hardhat wearing man who carries a pink flamingo around to every Pacer game), and the dream that pulls us together (winning a championship), is the dream that pulls us apart (this last part is up to Vogel and the Pacers front office to prevent).
So close, yet so far away.