It looks like the Pacers are bringing out the white towel; the question is who is going to wave it?
On Friday night the Pacers fell to the Toronto Raptors, 108-98 in Canada. Despite Danny Granger's 25 points, and Tyler Hansbrough's 20, the team could not stop one of the worst teams in the league. They were also kicked around by the Minnesota Timberwolves before this game. What does that say about this team now?
Where to begin with this one?
The Raptors had five players score in double figures tonight, including a career-high from Leandro Barbosa, who finished with 29 off the bench. Although three Pacers players had seven rebounds, they didn't do a good enough job collectively. They were out-rebounded by twelve, and Toronto was able to shoot over 53 percent from the floor for the game.
Darren Collison and Paul George both started tonight's game and played fairly well, just didn't have the same numbers as Granger and Hansbrough. Collison had 13 points and seven assists with just one turnover, while George had ten points and seven rebounds for Indiana.
Roy Hibbert continues to struggle. After going scoreless the last game against Minnesota, he was just two of five from the floor tonight, finishing with just four points, three rebounds, and one assist in 21 minutes. He has been playing terrible ever since the All-Star break, and it seems to be the theme for this team.
Bobby "Slick" Leonard mentioned something in the broadcast tonight about how the team didn't look conditioned well enough to fight. They all looked sluggish and lifeless at times out on the court. There was no energy, and that all starts at the top with management and the coaches. Don't misinterpret that though, the players are really the ones that should be held accountable for this horrible losing streak.
When will Danny Granger ever step up and be the leader that Larry Bird has always thought he could be? When will he really show us that he cares?
When will Darren Collison have two or three really good games in a row, instead of just one every week or two?
When will Roy Hibbert wake up and realize that he is 7'2" tall? When will he ever get pissed off at someone and start banging inside like a grown ass man?
Perhaps the questions aren't "When," but rather "Will they ever?"
The real story here is that the Pacers lost their sixth straight overall and dropped into a tie with Charlotte for the final playoff spot in the East after the Bobcats beat Portland on Friday night. The Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Nets also racked up wins tonight, while the Pacers tripped over their own feet yet again.
Coming into tonight's game, the Raptors had lost 23 of their last 27 games. They have now beaten Indiana five straight times in Canada.
Since winning seven of its first eight games under coach Frank Vogel, the Pacers have lost 10 of their last 13 games.
As bad as the past couple of weeks have been for this team, it only seems to get worse when you look at the schedule. The Bobcats beat Portland tonight, and have a date with this same Raptors team this weekend. They will almost certainly win that game. When you look at the upcoming games for the Pacers, it is difficult to find a win in the next week or so.
They will face the Knicks on Sunday and Tuesday, and Amare and Carmelo are not going to be happy campers coming into those games. They will be wanting to make a statement, and will probably do so with an emphatic punch to Indiana's gut.
After that, they have games with the Celtics, Bulls, Grizzlies, and Nets before they have a huge game with the team they are battling with for the final spot in the playoffs. They will head to Charlotte for a road game on March 23rd. Going into that game though, the Pacers could be carrying with them a 12 game losing streak. That would almost certainly put them back in an all-to-familiar position; barely in the NBA draft lottery.
If my prediction of a 12-game losing streak comes to fruition, we can go ahead and start analyzing the draft class that will be coming out next year, and see what we can get. Better yet, it is probably easier to just pick the most unlikely player in the draft that we would ever look at, and know that he will soon be wearing a Pacers uniform.
The next game is scheduled for Sunday evening in New York at Madison Square Garden. Tip off is set for 6:00 p.m.