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Right on pace

Jeff Yoder | 2014

Jeff Yoder | 2014

The Waterboy

Jeff Yoder | Sports Co-Editor

This is not a column titled after the 1998 comedy with Adam Sandler. It’s a place to take a break from the action, step over to the sideline and let me refresh you with a cold cup of sports knowledge. Every other week, I’ll give a response to the professional and college sports worlds’ latest controversy.

With the NBA Playoffs in full swing, Lebron James’ Miami Heat seem to be sleepwalking past the Milwaukee Bucks in round one; an unsurprising result to the say the least. King James has spent the past year living like a king, but he better think twice if he thinks his crown is protected for much longer.

Plenty of other squads are itching to take him down, but the biggest threat might be the one he least expects. MVP Lebron better have his eyes on MIP (Most Improved Player) Paul George.

George, Indiana’s All-Star forward and this year’s Most Improved Player, is igniting the Pacers with the best basketball of his career. His triple-double (23 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds) in game one against Atlanta boosted the No. 3 seed Pacers to a 107-90 victory on Sunday night.

George’s encore performance on Wednesday night, with 27 points, eight rebounds and four steals, ended in a 113-98 win for the Pacers and a 2-0 series lead over the Hawks.

The Pacers were the 3-seed in last year’s Eastern Conference and were playing the best they’ve played since the Reggie Miller days. That Indiana team was eliminated by the eventual champion Miami Heat, but this year’s Pacers have improved, starting with George.

One of the only NBA players to have a growth spurt after reaching the league, George grew two inches in the offseason between 2011 and 2012, showing the world that his game can only go up from here.

George’s Pacers are on pace for a second round meeting with the New York Knicks; a matchup that I think they can win in six games. After that, the Miami Heat will most likely be all that stands in the way of the NBA Finals for Indiana.

The last and only time the Pacers won the Eastern Conference and reached the finals was in 2000. They fell to the Los Angeles Lakers in six games. This year’s club has the potential to make it happen for two reasons.

The first reason is George, the only defender in the Eastern Conference with enough speed, length and determination to take on the King and slow him down. The second reason is what the Pacers do best the Heat don’t do at all; rebound. The Heat are clearly the NBA’s team to beat, yet they were last in the league in rebounding this season. The youthful and determined Pacers ranked first.

Though 89 years and a handful of other kings separated the British reign of King James and King George (1625 – 1714), history is due to repeat itself, this time in the form of basketball. During those 89 years, there was a King Charles or two between Kings James and George, but the NBA’s most well-known Charles (Barkley) is clearly in no shape to make a run at the 2013 crown.

In the above analogy that I, maybe, took too far, I almost used Queen Victoria to represent New York’s Carmelo Anthony. But since I digress and Gabe, my Co-Editor, is a Knick’s fan, I’ll refrain.  Either way, Carmelo and Lebron could find themselves in a pair of seven-game series with the Pacers if Indiana continues to rebound, possibly resulting in a short lived regime for Lebron.

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