The Indiana Pacers have dropped five of their last seven games, and with the Miami Heat now sitting in the top spot in the Eastern Conference, their chance at landing home-court advantage throughout the playoffs is in serious jeopardy.
According to Roy Hibbert, some "selfish dudes" are the reason for Indiana's recent struggles.
Some selfish dudes in here. Some selfish dudes. I'm tired of talking about it. We've been talking about it for a month.
We play hard, but we've got to move the ball. Is it obvious, or what? I don't know whatever our assist ratio, or whatever it is, is in the league, but it probably isn't up there. I'm really trying hard not to spaz out right now, but I don't know. We've been talking about it for a month. I'm not handling the rock. I don't know. I've made suggestions before and we do it for, like, one game, and then we revert back to what we are. I don't know. I'm not the one to answer that question. It directly affects me and the bigs. We're just out there and it makes us look bad.
To Hibbert's point, Indiana's assist-to-turnover ratio has been abysmal lately. For the month of March, CBSSports.com's Zach Harper indicates that it was 1.24, which would rank 29th in the NBA over the course of a full season.
However, this isn't a new development. Prior to March, it was 1.33 (26th in the league).
While Hibbert has every right to be concerned about the Pacers' ball movement and turnover woes, fans shouldn't follow suit. In other words, there's no need to overreact to these comments.
Indiana fans must remind themselves that, despite looking less than spectacular lately, the Pacers are still in a great position to accomplish their goal of winning a championship.
They must also remind themselves that a team that has faced very little adversity all year long is now dealing with some.
Like Dennis Scott mentions below after the Pacers' loss to the Spurs on Monday night, scoring 15 points in the first quarter and 35 in the first half isn't something that should be happening at this point in the season.
The Pacers haven't dealt with these kinds of struggles before.
Put yourself in that locker room.
You've been winning all year. You've been in first place from the start. You have two All-Stars and probably should have had a third.
Now, you're coming off your first losing month of the season. The home-court advantage that seemed like a lock just weeks ago is gone.
Naturally, you're going to search for answers. Hibbert clearly thinks the selfishness being displayed on the court is it.
However, like I mentioned earlier, this is a problem that has been in existence all year. It shouldn't be overblown the second it comes to the forefront.
The NBA season is a long one, and every team has its ups and downs. When a team that's expected to win every game enters one of those down periods, the sports world always overreacts.
Players do too.
According to Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Chris Bosh said the Heat "suck" just a week ago. Now they've won three games in a row in impressive fashion and are in sole possession of first place in the East.
Here's the bottom line: Does Lance Stephenson force passes a lot of the time, resulting in turnovers? For sure. Does Paul George shoot too many contested jumpers because he feels like he needs to be the man for an offensively challenged team? Definitely.
However, both of those issues have an easy fix, and that is trust.
For a team that has such a dominant defense—and because a great defense is predicated on players trusting their teammates to be in the right spots at all times—it's surprising that the Pacers don't trust one another more on the offensive end right now.
However, if they're able to do so on one end, then they'll be able to do so on the other end of the floor. It's a matter of when, not if.
For a team that has been so focused all year long on winning a championship, I have no doubt the Pacers will get this thing back on track.
Let's not blow Hibbert's comments out of proportion. Once the playoffs start, the Pacers will be fine.
In fact, this recent stretch might be just the adversity they needed in order to win it all.