Oladipo discussed his breakout season with Indiana, the Pacers series with the Cavs, the Rockets/Warriors looming showdown (Dipo says Warriors in 7) and, in perhaps the most entertaining part of the night, sang a duet with Charles Barkley. The song choice was Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York.”
Whether or not Paul George stays in Oklahoma City, the Indiana Pacers already won the last summer’s blockbuster trade.
George could stay as a member of the Thunder as their GM Sam Presti felt “really encouraged” by his dialogue with him (doesn’t that sound familiar, Indiana?). Or, he could do what everyone expects and leave for the Lakers or some other team in free agency. We’ve already heard the rumblings that he’s “gone” as ESPN radio host Ryen Russillo said recently, but it doesn’t matter which way he ends up going. The Pacers are better off now than they would have been by keeping George, even a version of himself that wanted to stay.
No one is making jokes about the Pacers anymore (shout-out to the OKC Police Department, ESPN’s Rachel Nichols, who has deleted a tweet from early in the season that included a video from The Jump where she said it was ludicrous to say the Pacers were better off without George, and countless others. The Pacers silenced the critics and proved everyone wrong.
“If you don’t respect the Indiana Pacers now,” Victor Oladipo told reporters after the series against Cleveland, “then I have no respect for you.”
Pacers' Victor Oladipo: "If y'all don't respect the Indiana Pacers now, I have no respect for you. That's just how I feel. Nobody thought we would be here, no one, not one person but us in the locker room. … I feel like we've earned our respect from everyone." pic.twitter.com/427069lfdI
Oladipo’s first season in Indiana was better than George’s final one (both by individual and team success) and he’s two years younger. Oladipo will likely make an All-NBA team and an All-Defensive team this season and the city of Indianapolis has embraced him more than it ever did George.
What has been the most exciting and fulfilling Pacers’ season in years has finally come to an end. What started with confusion, anger, and frustration towards a former player ended with young stars looking towards the future. Somehow losing the franchise’s arguably most talented player in history was a blessing in disguise.
A group primarily made of players who had been given up on or looked over their entire careers, just took one of the greatest players of all-time to the brink of elimination. But more than that, this group brought something back to the people of Indiana that had seemingly escaped this basketball-frenzy state. A sense of “togetherness” that captured the attention of Hoosiers from Elkhart to Evansville. A togetherness that is rare as in professional sports as the caliber of player that eliminated the Pacers in the first round.
What is this togetherness that has echoed the Pacers locker room since late last summer? It’s indescribable, but Hoosiers can sense it from a mile away. It’s a “we above me” mindset, it’s putting the team first and letting individual accolades come as they may. It’s about striving for something that seems out of reach, too good to be true, and not letting the challenge overtake the journey. It’s Victor Oladipo talking about this franchise as if it’s part of his immediate family. It’s Myles Turner’s resilience when the critics (me included) hounded him about his inconsistency. It’s the resolve of the entire team that seemed to always comeback from a double-digit deficit and at minimum make the game interesting. It’s Lance Stephenson’s… well I don’t know, but Lance was Born Ready and born to play basketball in Indiana. He loves the game like only a Hoosier can. It’s the moment when seemingly all 15 Pacer players rushed to help pick up Cory Joseph after driving to the hoop. Actually, let me correct that, it’s when Pacers fans across the state saw that moment and recognized it from memories past.
Maybe you recognized it from playing pick-up at your local park during a hot summer day in the Hoosier state. Maybe you recognized it from an Indiana high school sectional final during a brisk February night. Maybe you recognized it from your child’s YMCA league. But wherever you recognized it from, you knew one thing to be true, it was Indiana through and through.
It took Victor Oladipo 16 minutes after the game ended to start thinking about next season and to text his trainer.
Close to a year later, no one is cracking jokes. The Pacers demanded everyone’s respect in their round one playoff series, they demanded your attention. Not because of their star power or their flashiness, but because of their togetherness. Their abilities and potential as a unit. The energy that connected Pacers fans with an energy and passion that had been dormant for too long. A rejuvenated spirit that only basketball can seem to bring to the state of Indiana. A sense of togetherness that goes beyond Oladipo and Turner, that moves through the young kids watching on TV or listening on the radio, that brings chills and goosebumps to those in the seats of Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Yes, this Indiana team has started a new era of Pacers basketball, but more importantly, this group has brought basketball back to where it needs to be: front and center in the hearts and minds of Hoosiers everywhere.
Together, they have put the NBA on notice.
The Indiana Pacers are back, and so is basketball in Indiana.
A revealing Nate McMillan postgame:
"We created a culture with our organization that we will continue to build.
“We want guys who are going to come in and play for the name on the front of that jersey. It’s not about the name on the back, it’s about the Indiana Pacers." pic.twitter.com/2A416bNLn0
His off-season workouts last season were a huge part of his success this year. He started eating right, famously quitting his favorite food joint Popeyes, and got into the best shape of his life. The Indiana Pacers couldn’t be happier with the player that Oladipo has become this season and he’s never satisfied, always looking to improve.
The Indiana Pacers were supposed to win 30 games this year. Every media outlet said so. Even Kevin Pritchard, the person who built this roster, admitted that their expectations were similarly low on the televised broadcast of Game 1 in this series against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Kevin Pritchard says no one in the front office said they would get to even 40 wins this season when the owner asked.
They shocked everybody. Including their own organization.
They’ve been shocking everyone since the beginning of the season. Can they do it one more time in a road Game 7 against the best player in the world in LeBron James?
“We’re looking forward to it,” said Victor Oladipo of the deciding game after the Pacers blowout win in Game 6. “There’s nothing wrong with a little challenge. Obviously, it’s a big challenge ahead but we’re looking forward to the game.”
Oladipo has relished the challenges all season and has done it with impressive positivity. He’s become a franchise cornerstone, making his first All-Star team and setting career highs in basically every meaningful statistic, while claiming Indianapolis as his city and the fanbase has happily enjoyed the ride and embraced him completely.
The table couldn’t have been set any better for the Indiana Pacers to take a commanding 3-1 lead over the Cleveland Cavaliers Sunday night.
George Hill was out of the game with back spasms, moving Jose Calderon, who didn’t play at all in Game 3, into the starting lineup. Kevin Love started the game with two quick fouls in the first quarter, forcing Tristan Thompson, who has been out of the Cavs rotation all series, into action.
But as the Pacers still couldn’t figure out their slow start problem and Cleveland built another double-digit lead in the first half for the third consecutive game, Indiana couldn’t complete the second-half comeback for the second time in four games.
The Indiana Pacers are like the fictional African nation of Wakanda from Black Panther. Everyone else in the world thinks they are one thing, just a place you don’t need to worry about, live practice for a first-round contender, but now they’re shocking the basketball world with revelations of their elite technology and weapons that give them a chance against anyone as they go into the fourth game of the series with a 2-1 lead over LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Indiana has been staying in obscurity all season, lurking in the shadows, appearing only once on national television.
Except the Pacers have been showing this all year. They weren’t trying to keep this a secret like Wakanda. They beat Cleveland three times this season. They swept the Golden State Warriors. It’s just no one was paying attention or perhaps not taking them seriously enough as a threat to care.
Cavs coach Ty Lue will likely be ready with adjustments and how Pacers coach Nate McMillan and his staff are able to respond to those will determine how successful they can be through the rest of the series.
Here are a few likely adjustments from the Cavaliers and what the options are from there for the Pacers:
For many NBA fans, yesterday’s blowout win for the Indiana Pacers over the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first game of the series was an introduction to the team.
They were on national television exactly one time this season.
NBA fans, this is Indiana. Game 1 is what they’ve been doing to teams all year.
Oladipo is that guy that everyone on podcasts all year was like, “Man, what a season he’s having” but they actually never watched and doubted it was sustainable. Nope. This is what he does. Gonna be around 30 points every game this series. His approach is unwavering. He’s great.
“We’ve been playing like this all year,” said Victor Oladipo, who finished with 32 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals and a block. “We’ve been playing hard on both ends all year. It just hasn’t been magnified. It’s the playoffs now … and everybody sees it, so it’s kind of shocking to everybody I guess you would say.”
The Indiana Pacers have a chance to finish with 49 wins tomorrow night. It’s hard to find any outlet that predicted they win more than 35 games and no one was picking them to make the playoffs let alone finish the regular season as a top-5 seed.
It’s no coincidence that the best ways to describe the season and the team are all with positive adjectives:
Side note: Oladipo’s claim that he last ate Popeyes about a year ago appears to be false as he seems to have eaten it over the All-Star break according to this Sports Illustrated article:
Over the next 96 hours, he would host one party at a club with Cardi B, another with Snoop Dogg and Floyd Mayweather. He’d sing with Jamie Foxx, dunk with Black Panther and toast Michael Jordan’s birthday at a $100 million mansion in Bel-Air. He’d play Jenga in a sneaker store stock room with someone who goes by The Shiggy Show, an apt moniker for the weekend, and he’d dance alone in front of 1,000 people at a practice. He’d eat sushi from Katsuya and chicken from Popeyes. He’d ride in enough Mercedes Sprinters to fill a presidential motorcade, protected by three security guards and primped by two stylists. They would present him with approximately 40 ensembles, a dozen of which he would wear. He’d wake up early to toss 12-pound medicine balls and do plyometric pushups in the J.W. Marriott fitness center, and at 9 a.m. Sunday, he’d watch online the weekly sermon delivered by Pastor John K. Jenkins at First Baptist Church of Glenarden back home in Maryland.
The Indiana Pacers swept the season series against the defending champs. Sleep on them at your own risk in the playoffs.https://t.co/zoOTgAmQBm
In case this is your first time here, here’s the concept of This Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words: I take an interesting picture from the history of the Indiana Pacers from ABA glory to the modern era and literally write 1,000 words (or more) about the photo.
Nothing speaks louder for Victor Oladipo’s impact on the Indiana Pacers than his team’s record with and without him.
With him, the Indiana Pacers are 33-19.
Without him, they are 0-6. Simply put: no Victor, no victories.
One of the biggest differences that he makes when he’s playing is how much faster Pacers play. While the impact is only little over a couple of possessions per game when he’s on the floor, that’s the difference between ranking 16th in pace overall when he’s on the court and 26th when he’s off the court.
Kevin Pritchard has had a long career working in NBA front offices, but this year’s deadline was different than the rest.
Six players came to the Pacers President of Basketball Operations and told him to keep this team together, which be said had never happened before in his basketball life. One player in particular made a strong plea for the group.
“We deserve to see this thing through,” said the mystery player according to Pritchard. “No one believed in us. No one thought we’d be any good. We deserve this.”
INDIANAPOLIS–Victor Oladipo flirted with a triple double. Lance Stephenson rocked out on the air guitar a few times during a fourth-quarter run. It was just your typical night in Bankers Life Fieldhouse as the Indiana Pacers (32-25) took care of business against the undermanned New York Knicks (23-34) with a 121-113 victory.
The Pacers defense was a little late to the game after giving up 37 points in the first quarter and 62 at halftime but they still led by six at the break.
“We still didn’t establish ourselves defensively, certainly not in that first half,” said Pacers Coach Nate McMillan. “If we weren’t scoring and shooting the ball at such a high percentage, this could have been a different outcome.”
The Indiana Pacers will be well represented in the NBA All-Star weekend events this year as Victor Oladipo was selected as an Eastern Conference representative and Domantas Sabonis was chosen to play in the Rising Stars Challenge as a member of Team World.
“It’s just like when your brother is going with you on a school field trip or something,” Oladipo said of having his teammate with him. “I’m excited. I’m looking forward to it.”
Charlotte Hornets point guard Kemba Walker has been made available in trades according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
The Hornets would be looking to unload one of their bad contracts (they have a lot of them) in any potential deal that included Walker, who is averaging 21.7 points and 5.8 assists, according to Wojnarowski.
ESPN Sources: Charlotte making All-Star guard Kemba Walker available in trade talks. Story: https://t.co/4u3mLpmHcH
Any time an All-Star caliber player (Walker was selected as an All Star last season), every team, including the Indiana Pacers, has to consider whether or not they should pursue that player. Kevin Pritchard and company will have to do their due diligence and weigh the pros and the cons of any possible Walker deal.