The Indiana Pacers’ slow, ugly collapse began shortly after the NBA All-Star break last season, and concluded after six games in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Paul George thinks early-season wins were coming too easily for his squad, and they grew complacent. As a result, they completely lost their edge and never regained it.
Per the LA Daily News:
“Before we were hungry,” he said. “We started the year off hungry, the bad taste from the year before was in our mouths and everyone was on a mission. Once we started to win, the game was coming too easy. We were running away from our opponents and we just kind of forgot that edge.”
“It was a point where we came into games thinking we could just turn it on, regardless if we started bad or not. And I think that kind of put us in a funk to where teams were starting to really play us and get ready for us,” he said. “We weren’t the team chasing opponents. We were being chased and we couldn’t find that balance between getting that edge back we started the season with.”
“We were still a great team. We still had pieces, despite the year we had. We had the pieces to win a championship,” he said. “Ultimately we couldn’t put it together at the right time. Had we started the playoffs in November or December we’d probably be holding up a trophy. We peaked too early.”
After a blazing start, Indiana (56-26) stumbled late in the regular season but still finished with the best record in the East; they were pushed to the brink of elimination in the first round of the postseason by the lowly Atlanta Hawks; and ultimately succumbed to the Miami Heat.
For Paul George and the Pacers, it’ll be important to remember next season that the Playoffs don’t start in November nor December.