First things First: Last night was not Malice at the Palace 2.0. This needs to be said. But in case in you missed it, there was a scrum in the 4th quarter of last night’s Pacers-Warriors contest. The Pacers won, 107-98, but not after an incident that began when Roy Hibbert got tangled up with David Lee. Check it:
The whole thing could have ended at the :10 mark. David Lee gives Hibbert the most unfriendly chest bump I’ve ever seen, talks his trash and then turns his back. It’s over. Defused.
We at TheOrangeWedge are huge fans of David Lee. Not just because he started as a Knick, but the way he plays the game. As for Hibbert, I doubt you’ll find a nicer 7 footer than Roy Hibbert. Check out this article, or this article. The dude is exactly who you want as the cornerstone for your franchise.
And yet, the Pacers can’t fill their seats. But we’ll get to that later. Back to the video.
If anyone deserves to get suspended here (besides Hibbert), why not Steph Curry? Curry throws himself at Hibbert not once, but twice! And both times he gets tossed by Hibby. By that time, Curry’s sheer momentum has carried the pile towards the first row and photographers, escalating the situation and probably the main cause for the suspensions. Sitting courtside is the single best way to view a professional sport, and the NBA has to protect that asset or they will be at risk of losing that privilege. Just ask NASCAR.
Why these two teams? It wasn’t unlikely when you break it down. Since Frank Vogel’s arrival in Indiana his has instilled a very blue-collar mentality to the locker room. The Pacers play tough, they play physical, and they play unselfish. Even with the 2nd best record in the East, they play like an underdog every night.
The Pacers methodology and mindset is exactly what Mark Jackson has been attempting to do in Oakland. Jackson took the role of Warriors head coach before last season, had a shortened training camp, and struggled with injuries; all while management made significant roster moves. But he has transformed the Warriors into his mold: athletic, scrappy, and unselfish. Much like the point guard who trails only John Stockton and Jason Kidd in the All-Time assists totals.
A quick backtrack: last night’s scuffle is terrible for the Pacers, who are already ranked 26th in league attendance. Why would the team that only trails the Heat in the East be struggling to fill seats? I have my points, and they are much in line with that of Colin Cowherd. But this isn’t about that issue. The point is, this incident won’t stop people from going, but it certainly won’t have a positive impact. People that haven’t been going will finger-point and call this another reason they won’t attend games. But this wasn’t violence. It was hunger. Hunger from two teams that are built to win, but are destined to fall short of their goals.
Neither of these teams have a legitimate shot at the title. They are playoff teams, they will be in the discussion, but deep down, they know they won’t be able to reach the Finals. So what if the Pacers are 2-0 against the Heat this year? So what if the Warriors beat the Spurs in OT last week?
Both of these teams know they are good, but not good enough to win a series. As we hit March and teams pick up the intensity, more players are going to get technical, and more skirmishes like this may break out. It’s unfortunate this had to happen in Indiana of all places, but the NBA is too competitive for emotions not to boil over at this point. I believe, however, that last nights, tussle was a very good sign of things to come.
Brace yourselves, this Playoffs is going to be one of the best in recent memory.