The trials and tribulations of the Indiana Pacers are well-documented.
Fast start, bad finish, question marks all-around entering a pivotal game Sunday against the formidable Oklahoma City Thunder.
Due to the Keystone Kops finish in the Eastern Conference, the Pacers were still -- against all odds -- in the driver’s seat for the No. 1 seed, despite a defeat at Miami last week and in spite of losing nine of their last 13. So Sunday’s game was going to go a long way towards defining how the Pacers would be entering the playoffs.
As it turned out, Indiana’s engrossing 102-97 victory was an exercise in who and who can’t be trusted on the eve of the playoffs for Indiana.
Who can’t be trusted? Roy Hibbert, mired in a terrible slump, grabbed six rebounds -- which might seem modest considering he had six combined in the Pacers’ last four games -- but he can’t be trusted to score. He didn’t score at all and despite his rebounds seemed out of sorts.
Evan Turner? He had four turnovers and the jury is still out as to whether he can be trusted to run the offense smoothly. George Hill? He seemed gassed.
The bright side for the Pacers was there were more on the trusted ledger.
David West converted 9 of 11 for 21 points and worked hard in the paint as he usually does. Ian Mahinmi spelled Hibbert, but maybe not for long, as he showed he could be trusted to provide energy and scoring in the paint that Hibbert couldn’t. Mahinmi had a season-high 11 points.
C.J. Watson? After a month-long absence due to a hamstring injury, he showed he could be trusted to drain a 3-point shot -- or three -- as he did in a season-high 20-point effort.