The 2013 Eastern Conference finals is unique for me. Born in Indiana and growing up during the 90s, I was a Indiana Pacer fan. Make no mistake, I've always been a fair weather fan at best, so when in the early 2000s the Blue and Gold starting losing I started losing interest. But before I sold out and started paying more attention to talent over teams, I watched Pacer squad after Pacer squad repeatedly lose to a certain team from Chicago. Guys like Reggie, Rik, and Detlef couldn't get around those guys named Michael, Scottie, and Toni. And now almost 20 years later, it's crazy how cyclical sports can be. The up and coming Pacers of today face a similar behemoth in the Miami Heat. Here's a quick match up breakdown.
Mario Chalmers vs. George Hill - Both guys run their offenses well with Chalmers holding the edge only, because he's been to the promised land once before. Hill is a solid starter, distributes the ball well and has a good stroke from behind the arc.
Dwayne Wade vs. Lance Stephenson - Wade's got knee problems, but is still Dwayne Wade. He finds ways to get to the basket, but finds it tough due to the middle being clogged with bigs. Aside from the fact that he is hurt, this series has shown that Wade should've developed his outside shooting earlier in his career and is staying hurt due to his game being so reliant on slashing and driving. Stephenson is the wild card for the Pacers. He takes risks that make Hoosiers hold their breath. When he's confident he's amazing, when he's scared he's a liability.
LeBron James vs. Paul George - The MATCHUP. Following classic back and forth offensive possessions in which George posterized Chris "Birdman" Anderson with a definitive dunk and James nailed a deep three to end the 3rd quarter, the two prize fighter's fist bumped igniting the series into an instant classic. I guarantee you that fist bump will be used in NBA marketing for years to come, because Paul George is that next superstar who will challenge the throne of King James.
Chris Bosh vs. David West - So far in this series West has owned the Power Forward position. Being of a fan of his since his days as a Hornet, it's great to see him get a new lease with this team. Bosh has struggled, because he isn't a traditional post player and is playing against his nature when facing West. Bosh's role has been mostly limited to spacing the floor for LBJ.
Udonis Haslem vs. Roy Hibbert - Until Game 5, Haslem has been invisible in this series. He hasn't been a force at all while Hibbert is quickly approaching household name status. Dominant in the paint, Roy has done everything Coach Vogel has requested of him. From pulling down boards to knocking down hook shots. This series has started and stopped in the middle and the Pacers have Roy to thank for that.
The benches for both teams have been even, if not underwhelming in this series. The Heat's stable of shooters have been absent while the Pacers really rely on their first unit for scoring. To be the honest it's really been the LeBron show for the Heat and a balanced attack for the Pacers. But I guess when you have the best player in the world on your team you can approach every game the same way. Get LeBron the ball and get out of the way.
So after 5 games the Pacers are down 3-2 and are heading back to Indy to try an even the series one last time. Will Paul George take over the game as everyone hopes he will or will LeBron be LeBron and hold court with a borderline quadruple double performance?
As a fair weather fan, I'm primarily interested in seeing great performances, but also watching the Blue and Gold during this post season has conjured up old feelings. Feelings I haven't felt since the days of JNCO jeans, playing Goldeneye on the N64 until 3 a.m., and a wicked case of acne.
So I guess the better question is who will show up in my living room on Saturday night? The turn coat fan of King James or the middle school kid who spent too much time trying to shoot threes in his driveway like Reggie?
Who are we kidding... Let's go Heat!