The Jerome Bettis "Super Bowl in his last year" press is a great story. But what if Ben Roethlisburger jumped into the stands and ruined everything? That is what the Pacers have had to go through the past year and a half. Indiana's serious title shots have been obliterated since the Mallace in the Palace incident. How could a team that beat nearly the same 34-5 Pistons club as last year be on the brink of the playoffs this year?
Trading for Peja Stojakovic is the best thing to happen to Indiana in a while. This team had a colossal problem scoring the ball. They were just 10-7 at the point when Artest quit on them and weren't getting any better. That team was at full strength when they lost by 30 in Cleveland with Tinsley, Jackson and O'Neal all healthy...for a little bit.
As though things couldn't get worse, Jermaine O'Neal suffered a groin injury with circa 9 minutes left in the game versus Cleveland. Personally I can't fathom why O'Neal was playing in the 4th quarter anyway. He was just 3-11 coming into the 4th and honestly didn't play well enough to be a part of the comeback if it were to occur. Rick Carlisle what were you thinking? After the calamity of leaving Ron Artest in the Pistons game two years ago you'd think Carlisle would be reluctant to play his star in a 70-51 blowout.
Handicapping these Pacers is never easy because they have so much skill but their togetherness is questionable.