Nate McMillan, Paul George and the Indiana Pacers are officially the laughingstock of the NBA and will be for a while. Following Thursday night’s debacle of a loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series, the Pacers, McMillan and George are done as a trio. There is no coming back from this one.
Indiana led Thursday night’s game by 25 points at the half and somehow lost 119-114. The Pacers piled up a team playoff record 74 points in the first half, while holding the Cavs to just 49. Then they blew it. I watched the entire game and I’m at a loss for how George and company bungled it away.
Good teams don’t blow 25 point leads, let alone in a must-win playoff game at home.
The Cavs outscored the Pacers 35-17 in the third quarter to storm back into the game. Then rhey took the lead 100-98 with 6:26 left in the contest. There was a little fight left in the Pacers and they battled a bit, but Cleveland and LeBron James just wore them down. The Cavs also wound up outscoring Indiana 35-23 in the fourth quarter, which made the second half score 70-40. Basically George and his cohorts didn’t come out for the second half.
When the Cavaliers made their run, no one on the Pacers had an answer. All George could do was beg for calls from the officials. McMillan looked like a deer in headlights on the sidelines. Neither guy adjusted or stepped up. It was a spectacular failure from the two men the Pacers look to when the chips are down. Instead they looked like two guys who were hearing James’ thunderous footsteps catching them from behind.
This isn’t the kind of loss you recover from. Somebody has to go, whether it’s George or McMillan, there has to be a change made. Solid teams with good foundations don’t lose games like this. Good squads don’t have their leader throwing his teammates under the bus after losses.
Larry Bird and the team’s management need to take a long hard look at what they have and make some pretty dramatic changes if they’re serious about winning. As of now the best thing the Pacers could do is be competitive enough in Game 4 to not get embarrassed, then try to fix things in the offseason.