On the eve of this Eastern Conference series, the wobbling No. 1 seed punctuated its final playoff preparations in a most self-destructive way: Two Indiana Pacers dragged a cursing, cut Evan Turner off of the Bankers Life Fieldhouse court, untangling him from a practice-floor fistfight with teammate Lance Stephenson.
Turner hadn’t been the first Pacer to lose his temper with Stephenson these tumultuous several weeks, and Stephenson’s relentlessly irritable nature suggests Turner won’t be the last. These scrapes aren’t uncommon in the NBA, but this confrontation had been weeks in the making and that reflected in the ferocity of the encounter, sources told Yahoo Sports.
“This stuff happens, but the timing wasn’t ideal,” one witness told Yahoo Sports.
If acrimony naturally lingered into Saturday, make no mistake: Stephenson and Turner weren’t the reason the Atlanta Hawks embarrassed the Pacers in Game 1. Maybe it tilted the mood of locker room, but no one dared suggest that it held responsibility for deadening the Pacers into defeat.
These two guards have struggled together since the deadline deal brought Turner from Philadelphia to Indiana. Suddenly, Turner is learning to play without the ball in his hands, and Stephenson is relearning the balance of passing and shooting. Truth be told, there were probably Pacers willing to let Stephenson and Turner beat the dribble out of each other. Still, Luis Scola and David West finally grabbed an enraged Turner and separated Stephenson. Yahoo Sports
Does this surprise anyone? The two players clash when they are on the floor together because they are basically given the same assignment on offense: go iso and make something happen. I’m not going to accuse either guy of being selfish, but it is disappointing to see two talented players let their frustrations get so out of hand before the playoffs.
The Pacers rebounded from their embarrassing Game 1 loss last night for a comfortable Game 2 victory. Regardless, I expect the Hawks to win this series in six or seven games. The only constant with the Pacers for the last two months has been their inconsistency. I’m just going with the odds. – AL