The Indiana Pacers. The Eastern Conference Finals.
Who would have thought?
We knew they’d be back…some year.
But at the beginning of the 2012-2013 season? After losing their best shooter, Danny Granger, who would have thought it would be this year?
Anyone who watched them in the playoffs. That’s who.
Because the Pacers did what championship teams do. When one player went down…the others stepped up. Guys like D.J. Augustin, Ian Mahinmi, and yes…Lance Stephenson.
The guy who was much maligned, learned every lesson the hard way, and spent most of his first two seasons on the bench…has grown up overnight. He became a team player. And during game six of the Knicks series, he took over…and led his team to victory.
There will be no game seven. The Pacers are headed right to the Eastern Conference Finals. Do not pass go…do not collect $200.
On to Miami. And the Heat. Which is only appropriate…because it was against the Heat, early in the season, when we first realized what this team could do. That Paul George could play against LeBron James. That Roy Hibbert could defend at the rim. That David West and George Hill could provide solid veteran leadership in Granger’s absence. And that they could win. Against anyone. Even the current NBA Champions.
They’re ready. More than ready.
Lance Stephenson was “Born Ready.” And now he’s grown, matured, and come-of-age ready.
And so is his team.