Colts Division Champs

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Andrew Luck, T.Y. Hilton

The Indianapolis Colts are AFC South Divison Champs again, for the 3rd straight season. Should they be proud and celebrating? Of course. I know they only beat the Texans, right? the Texans are a lowly NFL team, right? Wrong. Before Sunday they sat at 7-6, and yet still seemed to be viewed as a ‘bad team’ the Colts should ‘blow out’, right? No.

Many do not realize, those guys on the other team, they get paid to0, they’re professional players too, they’re talented too. The Houston Texans, are a good football team. They’ve got the best defensive player in football, J.J Watt and a top 5 running back in Arian Foster. That’s nothing to overlook.

Sure, the Colts only won by 7 points, but why is it that we send so much criticism? Because we assume that the Colts can just blow out any team that we deem, ‘ average’ or ‘bad’.

The Colts have practically spoiled us fans, with blow out losses that they made look far easier than they actually were. So I think the Colts had a solid win Sunday, yet they struggled in some areas, its professional football, everyone is here for a reason: they’re good. So think next time, you put down a Colts victory, even if they didn’t play well.

Next week the Colts will face a hot Dallas Cowboys team on the road. So expect a bounce back game for the Colts, and for everyone to play. As Chuck Pagano confirmed he would play all starters and that resting starters towards the end of the season “Isn’t his philosophy”.

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Stephenson Back to Indiana?

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Practically all week long, you’ve heard numerous rumors from an plethora of sources that the struggling Lance Stephenson, could possibly return to home in a trade.

Although this is mostly talk, and the 2 teams haven’t been in serious talks. It could still  be possible. Lance has struggled dearly all season, averaging 10.3 points per game, and shooting an atrocious 7-27 from 3.  The Hornets naturally want to quickly dispose of their at first, exciting offseason acquisition.

Well you might ask; would it be the right thing for the Pacers? To be honest, no. Lance caused to many chemistry issues, and was ultimately more of a problem than an asset. Of course he put up great numbers, but that can be deceiving.

He is seen as a solid passer, and averaged nearly 5 assist a season ago; but those assists lie. They deceive, letting you think he isn’t selfish, and helps the team. The only circumstance Lance would pass is, a sure fire score (more assists for him).

With Lance gone, the void has been filled  by Rodney Stucket and C.J. Miles who have been doing a fine job. And when George Hill was asked about the possibility of Stephenson’s he stated, “We have a lot of guys filling the void…so i think it would be unfair to them”.

Now of course the NBA isn’t about fairness, but feel free to read between the lines on the quote. George Hill, most likely thinks they’re better off without him.

Frank Vogel had a similar thought when questioned “I dont have any comments on that… I love the togetherness we’re building”. Its almost blatantly obvious that Vogel, thinks that the team has built a better chemistry without him around. So the likeliness of this trade, slips a little, yet still doesn’t make it impossible.

On paper this would make sense. Say trading David West and Rodney Stuckey for Lance and maybe a younger power forward such as Cody Zeller or Noah Vonleh; that makes sense for the future. But Larry Bird seems very imminent on getting a first round pick in the deal, and wont likely wont even discus a trade unless one is included.

Everyone in this organization believes in the current roster, and it coaching staff. Despite the 8-17 record. So don’t expect a Lance trade, unless a first round pick is involved.

May I remind you that Lance left Indiana, and Larry Bird; the man who groomed him, for a smaller contract and a worse team. Maybe he needs to pay the price.


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C.J. Miles Finding Rhythm

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Offseason acquisition C.J. Miles has struggled early in the years for the Pacers, and has been sidelined with too many injures to name. But recently he’s lead the Pacers, when we needed it most.

In the past 5 games, C.J. has caught fire. In December hes averaging 14 points, and shooting 44% from the field. Now that may not seem like great numbers, but compared to the struggles he had early on, this is a huge improvement.

Miles was signed by Bird this past year, to bring a bigger and more consistent burst to the bench, and hes done exactly that. Stretching the floor for West and Hibbert, and providig a go to guy off the bench.

Last Night in a rout against the Lakers, he scored 20 points off the bench and shot 50% from the field. If he keeps this consistency and number sup, he likely deserves to be in the starting lineup. Which seems like a no brainer with the way the starters have been playing recently.

Indiana just came off an 8 game losing streak, and finally found rhythm last night, destroying the struggling Lakers, 110-91. If they want to dig themselves out of this 8-17 hole, Miles is the key.

C.J. should likely start at small forward in the coming weeks, and with the struggles of bigs West and Hibbert; he needs to be the x-factor and the scoring leader.

The Pacers will face the Los Angeles Clippers this Wednesday, who Miles dropped 30 points on last week. They’ll need that kind of boost from him this coming week, as they go on a tough West Coast Road trip. Starting in LA and ending in Minnesota.


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Should Pacers Trade David West?

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The Indiana Pacers are amidst a 5 game losing streak, and are struggling to find any sort of rhythm. David West has been his normal self, averaging 13.2 points, 6.3 rebounds per game, and as always his tough guy persona.

With a 7-14 record, things arent looking great. With only 5 players under contract next season (6 if you count Hibbert, player option). It seems likely, or at least makes sense that they would trade David West to a title contender, for younger players or possibly a draft pick. The Pacers will need to move in a different direction soon, and this seems like a move that makes a lot of sense.

Now its not to say that Larry Bird wont trade West, and they will make a run at the playoffs. But it seems unlikely, and if they’re record is like this when all star weekend rolls around; he just might pull the trigger.

Possible Landing Spots for West:

1. Phoenix Suns: This trade could make sense for both teams. The Suns are in desperate need of more talented veterans and need that extra boost to make them more of a contender. As for the Pacers, they’ve expressed much interest in point guard and Steve Nash prodigy Goran Dragic. After they offered Roy Hibbert for him last offseason, this offer could look a little more enticing. If the Pacers did make an offer it would be West and a 2nd rounder for Dragic and someone low on salary like T.J. Warren or Archie Goodwin. According to the ESPN trade Machine, it would have a negative effect on the Suns. So if they would not be willing, they could offer this for young talent Isiah Thomas. Regardless it would be somewhat easy to work a trade with Wests’ team friendly contract.

2. Cleveland Cavaliers: This trade might be the most enticing and helpful to both teams. The Cavs with maybe the worst bench in the NBA this year, in terms of scoring; this could help tremendously. I’ve put together a trade on ESPN’s Trade Machine, that involves David West and Rodney Stuckey being sent to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters. It works money wise, and would help both teams in the most needed areas. The Pacers with age and the Cavs with bench scoring. Also considering Waiters has been struggling in his new role with Cleveland and has had trouble adjusting. He would be better off in a Pacers uniform and his talent would not have to take a backseat to the Big Three.

3. New York Knicks: This is of course the least game changing, for either team and wouldn’t likely make a huge difference, unless draft picks are involved. The trade that works money wise is yet again David West and Rodney stuckey, for Andrea Bargnani and Iman Shumpert. This provide another solid veteran to the Knicks and younger talent to that Pacers. Now this would be the least likely of trades and probably wont happen. But still is an interesting thought none the less. According the ESPN’s Trade Machine, it would not effect the projected wins of either team.

Other Options: Recently the Charlotte Hornets have apparently been ‘aggressively shopping’ a struggling Lance Stephenson. And just so happens that they are in need of a solid power forward with the struggles of Cody Zeller and Noah Vonleh. This could work money wise as well, that is if Larry Bird is willing to trade back for the player he groomed that ran away. The ideal trade would be Lance Stephenson and Noah Vonleh/Cody Zeller for David West and Rodney Stuckey. However this also seems unlikely, it is possibility.

Now, none of these trades are eminent and I do not have a source confirming that Bird is shopping West; but if the Pacers struggle. The likelihood of a trade will grow, and the possibilities will widen.

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What the Future Holds at Wide Receiver

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At the beginning of the season the Colts were considered to have one of the best wide receiver cores in the NFL. Since then things have changed drastically.

Reggie Wayne has recently been playing through many injuries. Pagano eluded to this during interviews. Stating Reggie has been playing through a minor knee injury, the obvious elbow injury suffered earlier in the year when he missed a game at Pittsburgh, and then finally an unspoken torn tricep. So this would explain the 3 dropped passes on  Sunday against the Browns and the immense struggle to get away form DBs.

During the off season a big sign was wide receiver Hakeem Nicks. Exceptions were that he would make a solid number 3 wideout and possible be part of the Colts future. Its actually turned out the opposite. Nicks has struggled to make any impact or improvement. Hes been targeted 51 times this year, but has caught only 24 passes. Nicks has simply lost his speed and ability to get open at all.

Now he hasn’t been completely useless. Hes been efficient in the redzone, with 6 touchdown catches. He just needs to improve more outside of the redzone. If he doesn’t, he most likely wont be resigned.

As for T.Y. Hilton, hes been maybe the best young, talented wide receiver in the league this year. Hes been spectacular against the best corners in the game, and took Joe Haden for a ride Sunday against the Browns; recording 150 yards on 10 catches for 2 touchdowns.

T.Y. is second in the league in receiving yards with 1295, behind speedster Antonio Brown. He has also has been a huge deep threat for Luck to throw to, averaging 16.6 yards per catch; also snagging 20 receptions of 20+ yards. Naturally Hilton will be a Colt, most likely forever along with Andrew Luck and has solidified his place as a #1 wideout.

3rd round pick Donte Moncrief has turned out to be a great pick, and pleasant surprise. He’s come into his own recently, recording 423 yards on just 27 receptions.

Moncrief could be a number 2 receiver in the coming weeks, with Wayne’s injuries and Nicks’ struggles. So the future is bright, with a Hilton/Moncrief combo.

Next season we will see a different lineup at wide receiever, one without Nicks and possibly Wayne; but the future is bright and the Colts will have a much younger offense next season.


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Pacers Recent Struggles

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The Pacers are amidst an embarrassing 4 game losing streak. Two of those being blowout losses to the Cavs and Suns. The others late game heartbreakers.

In these last few games, things have been different. With David West back, everyone is adjusting to new roles and its difficult at times. Copeland is playing more guard now, and Scola is coming off the bench again. So things have been a little strange for the rotation.

The injuries are starting to disappear for the Pacers, and they’re starting to become closer to last years rotation. With West and Watson both back, that’s a positive; but they aren’t playing with like a nothing to lose club anymore.

Before the rotation was small, and injuries were high. Doubt was everywhere, yet they played though it. Indiana loves that. Playing to prove everyone wrong. With more players back, the spark is gone and they haven’t jelled together yet.

They’ll get back in a rhythm soon. It takes any and every NBA rotation to jell together, and play well. The starting 5 has been Sloan, Stuckey, Hill, West, Hibbert. This most likely will be the ongoing rotation until George Hills’ return. Which is expected to come around mid December.

The upcoming schedule wont be easy for Indy. They’ve got Atlanta, LA Clippers, Toronto, Portland, LA Lakers and the Clippers again this next week or so. It’ll be a tough road trip out West, but I expect the Pacers to get back in the groove and go 4-2 on that road trip. The Pacers are due up for a quality win, its likely they’ll snag one soon.

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Hibbert set to return Vs. Suns

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Roy Hibbert, Goran Dragic

Roy Hibbert has missed the last 4 games with a sprained ankle; suffered against the Suns in the 1st quarter last week. He is expected to be back on the floor against the Suns tonight.

When the Pacers played the Suns last week, they struggled. Allowing an explosive, guard heavy offense to score 106, and only managed to scrap together 83 points.

Tonight things will be a lot different. With David West and Roy Hibbert back, they both need to perform. Phoenix has a guard oriented offense. Basically its a 3 headed monster of point guards; Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe and Isiah Thomas. So not only will they need to control them scoring in protecting the paint; they’ll need to go at Miles Plumlee and Marcus Morris on offense.

If West and Hibbert can put up 30-40 points together, we should easily win this game. The issue being that Donald Sloan, C.J. Miles and Rodney Stuckey will have there hands full on the defensive side.

If we can at least slow the explosive west coast offense down, it’ll be a close one. The Pacers are 7-10 and will look to take one step closer to a .500 record and move up from the 8th seed in the East.

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West and Watson return to Lineup

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This week David West and C.J. Watson returned the the Pacers lineup. West returned as a starter, and Watson off the bench.

This is exactly the boost that the Pacers needed. They’ve struggled with depth, only played 7 or 8 players in the rotation.

With West coming back, they get back the anchor, on offense. He brings a toughness in the post that Scola lacks. West scored 18 points and grabbed 6 rebounds in his season debut against Orlando.

Watson will bring back much needed 3 point shot, and run the offense a little smoother than it did under A.J. Price (who was picked up off waiver by the Cavaliers).

George Hill should be returning soon. Hes projected to return mid-December. Roy Hibbert has also missed a few games of recent, and is day-to-day.

It would really help if the Pacers could got healthy soon. They’ve got a difficult schedule coming up soon, facing Phoenix, Portland and Sacramento.

David West is going to need to lead this team. Hes always been the tempo setter, and leader of this team. At 34 years old, he hasn’t got a lot of time left, but we all know hes going to go 100% and perform at a high level as he usually does.

The Pacers sit at 7-10. They’ve got a tough December scheduled ahead, and should be ready for the challenge.


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Moncrief the Future

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During the 2013 draft, Colts fans thought, “We’ve got to pick offensive lineman, Luck needs protection.”, and when the Colts selected Donte Moncrief in the 3rd round. The reaction was poor, and most were confused by the pick. At the time we had great wide receiver depth. Why pick another one?

Indianapolis has always had a ‘Pick the best player available’ philosophy. It has of course always payed off. The Colts have always drafted very well. It looks like they did again with Moncrief.

Donte stands at 6’3″ and 220 pounds. So hes not a huge wide receiver, but is bigger than most of the Colts wideouts ( Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton). He clearly has the NFL speed, at 4.34. Interestingly enough, its the same 40 yard dash time that T.Y. Hilton recorded during the combine.

He proved his speed Sunday, and that he can beat slower DBs; with 2 long touchdowns of 48 and 79 yards. His total stats from Sunday game against the Redskins were; 134 yards, 3 receptions, and 2 touchdowns.

Moncrief could very quickly replace the struggling Hakeem Nicks as the number 3 receiver soon. Look for Donte to be getting more snaps and more targets in the coming weeks.

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Is Boom Herron the awnser to Colts run game issues?

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This year, the Colts have had a decent run game. With Ahmad Bradshaw getting majority of the carries and long yardage plays, then Richardson with the short yardage business and touchdown situations.

After Ahmad Bradshaws’ fractured fibula, he suffered during the game against New England; the Colts needed to fill a huge void left by Bradshaw.

Its very yard to replace an explosive runner like Bradshaw, who was averaging 5 yards a carry on the season.

A fan favorite and 3rd string running back Boom Herron, has been sitting the bench all season. Waiting. Waiting for an opportunity to prove himself. With the injury to Bradshaw and struggles to Richardson, hes got a large window.

Boom Herron gained 65 yards in his first game against Jacksonville.

Yesterday against the Redskins Herron was very effective. Rushing for 88 yards on 8 carries; his best run was a 49 yard breakout for a touchdown.

Herron provides a speed that Richardson just doesn’t have, and will most likely be getting majority of the carries from now on.

This is good news for the Colts. After the Bradshaw things were looking down and if Herron can become a solid 100 yard a game rusher. Their is no telling what this team can do with an effective run game.

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