The Indiana Pacers have fallen, and it’s starting to look as if it’s entirely possible the once front-running squad may never get up.
After reigning as the Eastern Conference’s top-seed all season and boasting the NBA’s best overall record during the early part of it, the Pacers woke up Tuesday morning to find themselves looking up at their arch nemesis Miami Heat.
What’s more, the team whose chemistry was once the envy of all others, is now openly bickering among themselves and pointing accusatory fingers at one another. Even before Monday’s 103-77 beatdown by the visiting San Antonio, All-Star center Roy Hibbert told NBA.com of his teammates “some selfish dudes in here. I’m tired of talking about it. We’ve been talking about it for a month. And we’ve been splintering a little bit.”
The Pacers finished March at just 8-10 and are now only 13-13 over their last 26 games. With the two-time defending champ Heat next on deck, the loss to the Spurs marked the fifth time in six games the team has failed to crack 80 points.
Hibbert’s words of a team-splintering were on full display during a second half timeout against San Antonio when George Hill and Lance Stephenson got into a verbal spat on the bench and had to be separated by teammates. A few days earlier veteran forward David West suggested that 23-year-old All-Star forward Paul George needed to grow up.
“We’ve had plenty of players-only meetings and plenty of sit-downs as a team with coaches and we’ve had some upper management in here, so I don’t know,” added Hibbert. “Maybe we should all go to group therapy or something … figure out some of our grievances.”
The Pacers added Andrew Bynum and Evan Turner as midseason reinforcements, but in the process lost veteran forward Danny Granger, whom many credit with being the longtime calming voice in the locker room.
“I’m really trying hard not to spaz out right now,” said Hibbert. “We’ve been talking about it for a month…I’ve made suggestions before and we do it for, like, one game, and then we revert back to what we are.”