Indiana Pacers

Predicted Record
40-42 (Tom), 38-44 (Gil)

Last Year’s Record

Gil’s Commentary
Holy crap, is this team in trouble. Any squad that bases its chances for success in Mike Dunleavy, Jr., is doomed. Ask Golden State.

The Pacers have deep, deep problems, and I used to chalk it up to fallout from the Artest brawl in Detroit, but there comes a point in life at which you just have to blame Larry Bird for everything. Seriously, trading Stephen Jackson (with Al Harrington as bait) was necessary, but taking back Dunleavy and Troy Murphy? Was Jeff Foster getting lonely on oversized-white-guy bowling nights?

They’ve needed to dump Jamaal Tinsley for years, but keep bringing him back. Presumably, they’re going to need to package him with a better player, so maybe he’ll get sent out with Jermaine O’Neal, who’s been griping about being underappreciated and being surrounded by white players. I made that last part up.

It’s sad that this team is so mismatched, because I like Jim O’Brien’s coaching. This is a guy who got Paul Pierce, Antoine Walker, and a bunch of scrubs to the eastern finals. Neither of his last two teams (the Celts and the Sixers) have won as many game since he got fired from them.

Rejoinder From Tom
In my family’s personal sports history, one of the top ten moments involves me phoning my younger brother’s answering machine after the first big Pacers 1990s playoff series wins and heatedly proclaim as only an excited sports fan can that thousands of Hoosier schoolchildren were at that very moment in their driveways dominating the ball in the first five minutes of the pick-up game so they could become Rik Smits, the Dunking Dutchman. I still get shit about this. Anyway, my brother says if I phone him to leave any message of any kind about Stanko Barac, he’s changing his number.

Gratuitous Comics Connection
Garfield creator Jim Davis hails from nearby Fairmount.

Gratuitous Pharma Connection
Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly is facing like 375 billion lawsuits over its antipsychotic drug Zyprexa, which turned out to raise diabetes rates in its patients. Fortunately, Lilly also sells several insulin products.

Bonus Gratuitous Pharma Connection
I used to live down the street from Eli Lilly as a kid. He had a small room filled top to bottom with cases of bottled coca-cola, which is the closest thing I’d ever seen to Willie Wonka’s factory. Looking back, it seems to me like the company’s long been pro-diabetes. –Tom

The Bottom Line
There’ll be a midseason shakeup, but the team will be surprisingly competitive after that. Larry Bird will laugh about how he gutted his team and still managed to finish the season with a better record than Isiah Thomas’ Knicks. –GR

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