All-Star weekend is now in the books, as it generated mixed reactions from the NBA community, fans, and players.
Saturday night’s festivities are generally the heart of the February break. Nevertheless, everyone finds a way to pick apart the negatives and express their sour thoughts on the events. The Sprint Slam Dunk Competition has taken a turn for the worse, with the new format resulting in one of the most disappointing ends to a contest in recent memory. Entertaining is surely the proper term for the Taco Bell Skills Challenge, but many feel as if Goran Dragic‘s All-Star weekend was cut way too short. I can’t disagree.
For the Indiana Pacers, it was certainly a joyous sight to witness their two All-Stars, Paul George and Roy Hibbert, contribute to an Eastern Conference victory in the 163-155 slug-fest on Sunday evening.
With a familiar face coaching them from the sidelines, George and Hibbert combined for 26 of the East’s 163, which seems like a very small portion. There wasn’t much the two-time All-Stars needed to do, however, with teammate Carmelo Anthony lighting matches from 3-point territory with a record eight triples, and Kyrie Irving shooting 14-of-17 for 31 points, dishing 14 assists, and collecting MVP honors.
In his first start in the All-Star game, George scored 18 points (one better than his 17 last February as a reserve) and admitted he enjoyed the weird experience being teammates with rival LeBron James for a night. In all likelihood, that buddy-buddy relationship stopped on Sunday night, as the two will be on a collision course in May. We don’t really expect Toronto, Chicago, or Brooklyn to stand in the way of that Conference Finals matchup, do we?
Closing out the first portion of the season, the Pacers stumbled in two of their last three games, dropping a road battle to the Orlando Magic and a hideous home loss to the Dallas Mavericks. The loss to Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks marked just the third home loss of the season for Indiana, who still own the best home-court advantage, statistically. Obtaining a record of 25-3 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, the Pacers have won 89.3 percent of their home games. That number is one of the pieces of motivation the Miami Heat will use to try to regain number one seed privileges.
Rounding out February, Indiana is set to face four teams in five different meetings. The good news about this stretch for the Pacers? The combined record of the four opponents is a deplorable 77-132 (.368). More good news? Three of the five games are at home for the Pacers. Possibly the only alerting news is that they’ll be up against another dominant power forward, and a team that never surrenders on the road.