Lebanon Reporter

Local Sports

April 27, 2012

Pacers return to relevance as playoffs commence

“Hello relevance, my old friend. It’s been a long time. Seems like just yesterday Reggie was slinging 3’s from the rafters with Slick swooning ‘Boom Baby!’ into the microphone as if he were one Davis boy dunk away from keeling over for good.”

If the Pacers Franchise were a comatose patient granted an unforeseen and temporary reprieve from the land of squash and turnips to utter his first words in 10 years as friends and family look on in disbelief, there is no question this would be the bleary eyed response. 

The Pacers are back. And we don’t mean back from  vacation or back from the dead, rather they are back in the land of relevance. Finally the blue and gold are more than a bottom feeding zygote fighting for the last playoff spot in a conference dominated by sub .500 teams. In fact they have the third-best record in the Eastern Conference and fifth-best in the League.

And for you fans of the artificial cacophony of whining Indy Cars being piped in over the Banker’s Life loudspeaker, it would seem things are coming together at the right time. Danny Granger is no longer shooting the ball as if he were the victim of a botched Lasik procedure while David West has been playing out of his mind the last two weeks.

And while Darren Collison appears to be handling his demotion like a mature veteran, fans of the Blue and Gold should also relish the fact the Pacers are healthy and, perhaps more importantly, Orlando’s Dwight Howard is not.

Saturday the Pacers will begin just their second playoff series since 2006 and it’s been a long road. From the depths of the brawl, Larry Bird bid Reggie farewell and basically kicked everyone else off the elevator with the exception of Jeff Foster (who took himself off earlier this year by retiring). It hasn’t exactly been a meteoric rise either.

There were times when the elevator jammed (see Shawne Williams and Jammal Tinsley) and there were times when those non-part-time-pretend sports columnists wanted Larry to step off as well.

But finally it would seem the blue and gold are nearing the Penthouse Suite. And on their way they’ve shot past so many others including Rick Santorum, whose polite nod assured the doorman he was in fact heading down. The problem for the Pacers now is that someone has hung a tag on the door to the top floor which reads “Ocupado.”

By all accounts the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls appear to be chummy roomies in the Eastern Conference Penthouse Suite and it would seem there is no room for an upstart franchise, especially one from a small market with no superstar or NBA Championship Pedigree. 

So there’s only one way to get inside now. If Indiana wants to break through this year they’ll have to kick the door down Steven Segal style. And while it will take more than skin tight blue jeans, a ponytail and some really poorly written (and equally as poorly delivered) catch phrases to get past Orlando, Indiana seems poised to make a run at least at the Eastern Conference Finals this year.

Of course along the way Larry and Frank Vogel will likely need to stop on Commissioner Stern’s floor first to collect some hardware, but the last stop most definitely is the Penthouse. And before you fret, I’m fairly certain Paul, Danny, Roy and the rest will be happy to squeeze in to make room for you should you choose to come along for the ride.

 

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