The Indiana Pacers are in a full blown crisis as of April 1. This wasn't the case when the previous month started, as the Pacers were comfortably ahead for the top seed in the East, or as comfortable as they could be with the Miami Heat trailing them. But after the San Antonio Spurs ended an 8-10 month of March for Indiana with a 103-77 victory, the Pacers find themselves facing an even greater free fall ahead.
The Spurs ended March with a perfect record, an 18-game winning streak and a stranglehold on the top seed in the West. As for the Pacers, they are percentage points behind the Heat for the top spot in the East for the first time in months. After setting the standard for the Eastern Conference all season -- a standard that would give Indiana home court in a Game 7 of the conference finals against Miami -- everything is now in grave danger.
Of course, if the Pacers play against any opponent like they played against the Spurs, they might not even get out of the second round at best. San Antonio set the tone from the start, holding Indiana to just 15 first-quarter points. Although the Pacers hung around within single digits in the fourth, one more Spurs run turned the game into a laughter, and earned Indiana's starters a seat on the bench for the last few minutes.
Two of them were quite frustrated, as David West told Pacers.com reporter Scott Agness that "we barely recognize ourselves" while Roy Hibbert claimed "we don't deserve" the No. 1 seed. He also told Agness it was "none of your business" when he asked about a post game talk in the locker room.
With things imploding on the court and perhaps getting worse off of it, Indiana is watching what looked to be a dream season become a last-minute nightmare. If the Heat went through a month like this, there would be even more negative buzz -- but they've proven they can overcome regular season and even postseason hiccups more than once. The Pacers don't have that track record, nor have they earned the benefit of the doubt now.
The accompanying list details how things went so wrong for Indiana in March, and why April and May -- and the possibility of playing in June -- aren't looking as good as they used to.
Warriors get ball rolling
March 4: Golden State Warriors 98, Pacers 96 -- The Pacers likely didn't see too much reason to be concerned yet, even when Klay Thompson beat them on a shot with tenths of a second to spare.
Bobcats pummel Pacers
March 5: Charlotte Bobcats 109, Pacers 87 -- A few eyebrows had to be raised when the sub .500 Bobcats blew the Pacers out the next night, however.
Rockets put Pacers in crisis mode
March 7: Houston Rockets 112, Pacers 86 -- There was officially a problem once James Harden and the red hot Rockets destroyed the Pacers in the second half, as only one of these teams showed up for a possible NBA Finals preview.
Mavs keep Pacers skidding
March 9: Dallas Mavericks 105, Pacers 94 -- Another Western Conference team fighting for the playoffs had little trouble with the officially slumping Pacers.
Pacers temporarily stabilize
March 26: Pacers 84, Miami Heat 83 -- The Pacers went 5-3 after their four-game losing streak, although they were fortunate enough to face the Sixers twice. Yet it was with this grueling win over Miami that Paul George and Indiana looked to have finally come back to form.
Wizards send Pacers crashing again
March 28: Washington Wizards 91, Pacers 78 -- After beating Miami, Indiana promptly got taken out by John Wall and Washington, as a hangover from a big win wasn't a good enough excuse.
Cavaliers sink Pacers further
March 30: Cleveland Cavaliers 90, Pacers 76 -- The Pacers knew they had to beat the Cavaliers before playing the red hot Spurs the next night, yet Jarret Jack and the Cavs cruised by them anyway.