As we noted on Sunday following the Indiana Pacers' loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Pacers are in a bad way right now and it's stemming mostly from an anemic offense that can't get going. This team has dropped five of their past seven games and failed to break 80 points in four of their past five games. The team's all important home court advantage in the East playoffs is hanging on by a thread at the moment and tensions are high.
After Friday's loss to the Washington Wizards, things were not exactly great in the Pacers' locker room. Following a 91-78 road loss, Roy Hibbert had some tough words about his teammates. He didn't name names but he said there were some "selfish dudes" in the locker room at the moment. From David Aldridge at NBA.com:
If you thought Indiana's win over Miami last Wednesday restored order among the Pacers, got them out of their latest post All-Star break funk, got them pointed back in the right direction, you had to wait only 48 hours before the Pacers marched into the wall again.
"Some selfish dudes in here," Roy Hibbert muttered Friday night, after getting eight shots in the Pacers' loss to the Wizards. "Some selfish dudes. I'm tired of talking about it. We've been talking about it for a month."
"We play hard, but we've got to move the ball," Hibbert said. "Is it obvious, or what? I don't know whatever our assist ratio, or whatever it is, is in the league, but it probably isn't up there. I'm really trying hard not to spaz out right now, but I don't know. We've been talking about it for a month. I'm not handling the rock. I don't know. I've made suggestions before and we do it for, like, one game, and then we revert back to what we are. I don't know. I'm not the one to answer that question. It directly affects me and the bigs. We're just out there and it makes us look bad."
As you're heading into the final couple weeks before the NBA playoffs start, this isn't what you want to hear from a team with championship aspirations. Since losing Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Playoffs last year, all the team has talked about is securing home court advantage throughout the playoffs so those types of games are on their floor and not enemy territory. An attitude of feeling there are selfish guys in the locker room at this point in the season shows a shaky ground in Indiana.
And if this is the feeling of the team and they end up losing home court advantage to the Heat, they won't just be back where they were at the end of last season. We may end up seeing this team turning on each other due to feelings of selfishness existing on the roster. This could also all be completely overblown and an easy first round series could right the ship for this Pacers team. But what happens if their offense struggles in a second round matchup with the Chicago Bulls? What if they drop home games to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals?
As to Hibbert's concerns, their assist-to-turnover ratio prior to the month of March was a 1.33 (26th in the NBA) as a team. They posted a 1.24 in March (which would be 29th over the course of the season). It wasn't good before and it's even worse now. Hibbert has the lowest usage rate of his career this season at 19.3 percent (21.9 percent for his career) and that usage was 17.2 percent in February and 18.5 percent in March.
They're tired of talking about it but the conversation won't die until the woes get cured.