Eastern Conference Preview Part 2: ‘The Myths’ – Older Teams Will Struggle and the Indiana Pacers Will Be Good

This is the second part of my three-part Eastern Conference preview, “The Men, the Myths, and Legends.”

Part 1 dealt with “the men” – specifically point guards, and even more specifically the ongoing debate about who is better between Rajon Rondo and Derrick Rose (and which type of point guard is “preferred”). Click here to read Part 1.

Part 3 will published something to soon.

As for Part 2, which you are reading right now, we are going to delve into two myths that are being regurgitated time and again by fans and analysts alike as the 2011-12 season gets underway.

On to the Myths of 2012!

Myth #1:  With the crazy schedule, the “old guard” will be finished in 2012

There is an idea floating around the media right now that because of the jam-packed schedule this season (66 games in 120 days), older teams with less depth are going to take a step back this season.

Pierce-Allen-Garnett-eastern-conference-preview-older-players-will-struggleImage source: Sportige.com

I believe that this idea is resoundingly false because it operates under a few false premises:

False Premise #1: Older teams are the only teams playing a tough schedule.

Bill Simmons has bemoaned the fact that the aging Celtics have a stretch of 12 games in 19 days, and older teams like them and the Spurs will simply have to throw some of those games away.

The problem is, though, that many of those 12 games will be played against other teams that are in the midst of an equally grueling stretch.

I would play basketball five or six nights a week in college.  Obviously though, certain times would get busy and make it tough to play because we were all so exhausted.  One time during exam week, my friend Eric came and asked if I wanted to ball.  I told him, “Absolutely not man.  I’m so tired…I will play terribly.”  His response was so simple.  “Dude, who cares?  Everyone else is tired too.”

When we got to the gym, I played pretty poorly.  But it was ok…because EVERYBODY was playing poorly.

Now, if the Celtics had to play 12 games in 19 days against 12 teams that only were playing 3 games in 19 days?  Yes, that would be a catastrophe.  But it’s not that way.  The good older teams will be fine.

False Premise #2: Fatigue will hinder the good teams MORE than it hinders the bad teams.

Back to my example from exam week, what I found is that actually, the good players had even MORE of an advantage than normal because they could fall back on their basic skills that don’t go away with fatigue.

Normally, bad teams like the Cavs can stay close to good teams like the Celtics because they can at least rely on their athleticism.  Anthony Parker and Omri Casspi can keep up with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen because they can at least run around and stay active.  But when the legs go, what are Parker and Casspi going to fall back on?  Their atrocious jump shots?  Their suspect ball-handling?

I would rather have a tired Ray Allen and Paul Pierce than a tired Parker and Casspi.  Actually, I would rather have a VERY tired Allen and Pierce than a KIND OF tired Parker and Casspi.

False Premise #3: Older players will simply be unprepared for this season.

I completely disagree with this.  The fact is that teams that are good will be able to handle the fatigue BETTER than the bad teams because they ALREADY KNOW how to pace themselves for a long season.

When was the last season that Kevin Garnett played at 110% for every single minute of every single game of a season?  2001?  The crafty veterans are used to this.

On the flip side, I think the younger players will REALLY struggle.  Think about the rookies that have never played more than 40 games in a season before.  Now, they are in the NBA where they are trying to prove themselves and maybe find a way to stay on a team.  Are they going to be pacing themselves at all?  I doubt it.

There’s one other factor that fits into this that NOBODY is considering: the lockout.

When was the last time that Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Tim Duncan had a full six months off of basketball?  The answer is 1999.  That’s 12 straight years of eight months of basketball.

The truth is, I think the old guard would have been finished this year if NOT for the lockout.  But that extra time off will give the Celtics one more year to make a run at getting another title.

Don’t believe the hype.  The good teams will still be good in 2012…no matter how old they are.

Myth #2:  The Pacers are going to be good.

As a Pacers fan, this one hurts, but I need to explain.

The Pacers are definitely in a great spot right now.  They have a lot of young legs, they have cap room, they have a good coach, and they have good depth.

Their present is decent, and their future is pretty bright.  There aren’t seven other teams like that in the entire league.

However, the idea that the Pacers are going to make some sort of leap this year is one year premature.

The Pacers still have a SERIOUS problem – they have no scorer who can create his own shot.

The Pacers are in a very dangerous spot.  They are in jeopardy of having 7 good players (Hibbert, West, Hansbrough, Granger, George, Collison, Hill) and no great ones.

As we have seen with the NBA over the last 50 years, you can’t win anything like that.

What’s worse is that the only guy on their roster that could  become a great player plays the same position as the only guy on their roster that is already close to being a great player.

danny-granger-paul-georgeImage credit: Joe Robbins/NBAE/Getty via Bleacher Report

Paul George is a natural small forward, and he has the tools to be a star.  But Danny Granger already plays the three.  Do you trade him?

I think they should.  Paul George, right now, could give you 90% of what Granger gives you, and has a much higher upside.

OJ Mayo would have been perfect.  Eric Gordon would be perfect.  Chris Bosh might even be a good fit.

Somehow, the Pacers have to get a true game-changer at the 2 or the 4.  If they don’t, they will continue to be an exact repeat of last year’s team: a fringe playoff team that gets crushed in the playoffs every year because they can’t score in crunch time.

**********

Stay tuned for Part 3 tomorrow.



About Jon Washburn

Jon Washburn grew up in Indianapolis, IN and as such, is a diehard Pacers, Colts, and Cubs fans. When it comes to college, he cheers for Notre Dame football fan and Purdue basketball. Yes, this sounds shady, but since he grew up without cable, he learned to love Notre Dame - the only team on TV. Glenn "The Big Dog" Robinson was at Purdue when Jon was in his formative years, so he latched onto them as well. Did that make him a fair-weather fan at the time? Sure. Give him a break...he was 8...and he has stayed with those teams ever since. Currently, he lives in Charleston, SC with his wife who grew up in Cleveland. Although he is no longer physically in the Midwest, his heart will always be there. Jon goes by the name "Twitch" because he has Tourette's Syndrome. Hit him up on his twitter @jwtwitch.

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