Pacers falter in playoffs

Story by: Blake Slunaker, staff writer

As the summer gets closer, the NBA playoffs come closer to a conclusion. The teams are currently in the second round of the playoffs after the first round concluded on May 1.

The teams in the second round in the Western Conference were the Golden State Warriors who faced the Portland Trailblazers. Then the  San Antonio Spurs went against the Oklahoma City Thunder. In the Eastern Conference, it was the Toronto Raptors against the Miami Heat, while the Cleveland Cavaliers went against the Atlanta Hawks. The second round concluded on Sunday night with the Raptors defeating the Heat in the seventh game of their series.

The third round, or the Conference Finals, started on May 16. The teams set to faceoff in the third round are the Warriors against the Thunder on the West, and the Raptors against the Cavaliers on the East. The winners of the two sides will play in the NBA Finals.

Unfortunately for Pacer fans, the team could not make it out of the first round as they lost to the Raptors four games to three.

“I was disappointed the Pacers couldn’t pull it out against the Raptors, but I was still happy with their effort considering they were the underdogs,” said Dylan Freeman, 12.

The series was hard fought as Indiana pushed Toronto to a seven game series, but still could not pull it out in the long run. The Pacers and their fans will hope for better luck next year as they will try for a deeper playoff run.

NBA studs and duds

Story by: Connor Curts, staff writer

With the National Basketball Association’s season reaching its halfway point, it has become clear who is having a great year, and who is having a not-so-great year.

Paul George of the hometown Indiana Pacers is undoubtedly having the best season of his career, in his first full year healthy after the devastating and gruesome leg injury that kept him out for all but six games last year. He’s averaging 24.3 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 3.9 assists per game. All of those are career-highs. On top of that he was selected to his third All-Star Game, which takes place in February.

“PG has been incredible this year. He had a rough month in December, but overall he’s done pretty well,” said Kevin Lyons, 11.

Stephen Curry, the reigning Most Valuable Player and leading MVP candidate once again this year, has been tearing up the league all season long. Though he has cooled down from his hot start to the year, he is still averaging 29.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 6.5 assists. Curry opted to play through an injury that would have taken a full month to recover from, and so far, the decision has paid off.

But, not everyone is having such a great year. While some are posting career-best numbers, others are not.

Roy Hibbert, a former Pacers player who saw his stats, and his body, fall hardly to the floor last year, has managed to record even worse stats with his new team, the Los Angeles Lakers. He’s scoring just 6.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 1.6 assists this year. At 7’2, being one of the tallest players in the league, he’s expected to grab a lot more than 5.8 rebounds.

With half of the season remaining, players don’t have a lot of time to boost their stats, but there is plenty of time for them to hit rock bottom. Numbers don’t raise easily, but they fall as quickly as a rock from the top of a cliff.

Paul George’s return

Story by: Connor Curts, staff writer

When Paul George suffered a compound fracture to his leg on August 1, 2014, the Indiana Pacers fan base felt like it had just lost everything. Their star player was going to be out for the foreseeable future, and the team was going to struggle without him.

As expected, the team missed the playoffs, after George missed 76 of 82 games in the 2014-2015 season. And worse, George had to be carried off of the court with a calf injury in the final game. It wasn’t a good way to end the season.

Lo and behold, George wasn’t giving up on something he’s chased his whole life: winning the Most Valuable Player award, and winning the NBA Finals. He worked all summer long, strengthening his legs, working on shooting and dribbling. The question was whether or not it would pay off.

It did. He won Eastern Conference Player of the Month for the first month of the season, and through 20 games, George has averaged 27.9 points, 4.3 assists, and 8.2 rebounds per game. Each of those stats surpasses his career averages, and he’s in the race for MVP, though it will be rather hard to win it over Stephen Curry, the reigning MVP.

George is making 45% of his 3 point attempts, an incredible stat that will be key to watch for in the future.

“It’s insane how he’s been making so many 3 pointers,” said Sam Philpot, 11. “I can’t wait to watch him in person at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.”

For Pacers fans, seeing George on the floor at all is a wonderful sight. But seeing him single handedly dismantle opponents has been truly phenomenal.

Push for the NBA playoffs

Story by: Connor Curts, staff writer

It is April, and that means the National Basketball Association Playoffs are upon us. With only two games remaining for the majority of teams, and just one seed left in the Western Conference, as well as just two in the Eastern Conference, the stage is set for a big finish.

In the East, the Celtics look to be a lock for the 7th seed, and are ahead of both the Indiana Pacers, and the Brooklyn Nets by one game. However, in the case of a tie, the Celtics would receive the 7th seed over the Pacers, as they won the season series.

“As a Pacers fan, I always want to see them succeed, and the only way you can do that, is by making the playoffs,” said Maxwell Nugent, 10.

The Nets also won the season series against the Pacers, and with two games left, Indiana only has two ways to get in. They have to win both of their remaining games and rely on the Nets to lose at least one game. Or they have to win one of their games, and rely on the Nets to lose both of their games.

In the West, the Oklahoma City Thunder are now tied with the New Orleans Pelicans, after a huge loss to the Indiana Pacers. The game kept Indiana’s playoff hopes alive, while diminishing the Thunder’s, as the Pelicans won the season series over them, and hold the tiebreaker.

There are many possible outcomes, but only time will tell which teams are in, and which are out.