“When we play loose and don’t worry about turnovers and just play ball, I feel like it’s an easier game for us,” Stephenson said.
With no points on 0 of 9 shooting, Roy Hibbert’s inexplicable struggles continued, and while Paul George finished with 20 points, it was far from his best day. Still, the Pacers showed they can win big games when multiple big names play poorly, something perhaps only San Antonio can do at the same level.
With Miami’s white-flag loss on Monday, the Pacers grabbed the coveted top seed in the East. The team is 35-6 at home, 20-20 on the road, so there’s no understating the importance, even though Vogel did so as a mind tactic during his team’s recent difficulties.
Outside of the brawl-destroyed 2004-05 season, this has been the most bizarre campaign in Pacers history. The 16-1 start, 10-loss March and everything in between has been a grind for both player and fan. An Eastern Conference Finals rematch with Miami has been discussed since the last one ended on June 3, 2013, and the Pacers lost their way in the second half of the season, likely due to boredom and coping with widespread national notoriety for the first time.
With the playoffs starting in a matter of days, we’ll see if the Pacers have turned that proverbial switch to “ON.” Anything less than a trip to the NBA Finals will be a major disappointment, one that the populous won’t recover from until the Colts open on Sept. 7.
Legends are made in the postseason. It’s now up to the Pacers to decide how they’ll be remembered.
Brent Glasgow is a sports writer for the Hendricks County Flyer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 272-5800 ext. 190. Follow him on Twitter @ BGlasgow37.