The Big Picture: Last night, the Indiana Pacers had the Heat on the ropes. It took a 27-15 fourth quarter for Miami to come back and win by five, a disheartening defeat for a team that started the season surprisingly well, but has been up and down (mostly down) since.
But as one of the teams the Bobcats are battling for a playoff spot, let's not feel too sorry for the Pacers. After all, that playoff spot looks good, smells good, and they'd step over their own mothers just to get one. And on top of that, both the team and we television viewers will have to contend with that whizzing VROOOOM! sound effect at Conseco Fieldhouse, meant to evoke the Indy 500, never mind Roy Hibbert, Darren Collison, and Danny Granger.
Musical Interlude: Black Sheep -- "The Choice Is Yours"
Key to Victory: Collison has earned his place among the better offensive point guards in the league, but he's plagued by many of the same issues that plague D.J. Augustin: can he play defense against anyone over 6-1? Or is his defensive deficiency a mirage caused by the difference between Mike Dunleavy and Brandon Rush? Is he best used as a scoring-oriented guard, a la Aaron Brooks, or is he better off subsuming that skill in favor of his less-developed creation skills that, nonetheless, provide more value by getting Granger, Dunleavy, and Hibbert better scoring opportunities? Or will Paul Silas short-circuit the head-to-head matchup I've just set up and decide to go with Shaun Livingston in crunch time again? Should he?
Detail That May Interest .08% of You: Over his four years at UCLA, Collison played with, and was often overshadowed by, no fewer than seven other future NBAers: Arron Afflalo, Jordan Farmar, Jrue Holiday, Ryan Hollins, Kevin Love, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, and Russell Westbrook.