May 18, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers forwards Paul George (24) and David West (21) high five each other as they defeat the New York Knicks in game six of the second round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse...
May 18, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers forwards Paul George (24) and David West (21) high five each other as they defeat the New York Knicks in game six of the second round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana defeats New York 106-99. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
It’s been 17 years in the making, but I finally made it to my first playoff game.
No, it was not a Lakers game, sadly. If the Lakers had played in Detroit or Indiana, you could have counted on me being at one game, at the least. Maybe if I lived in California, I would have gone to one of their playoff games, but I haven’t lived in California for six years. So, here I am in Michigan, about three hours away from Chicago, Detroit and Indianapolis.
I’m not complaining, though. I had an awesome time. I arrived at Banker Life Fieldhouse an hour early so I could watch some shoot-around. I was able to stand court side and watch the likes of Raymond Felton, Iman Shumpert, Steve Novak, Lance Stephenson, and David West. I took quite a few pictures that you can see on Twitter (@Caleb_Cottrell) as well.
My seats weren’t fantastic — they were up in the nosebleed area. Even though they weren’t great seats, they were cheap and I could see everything just fine. I would sit in that exact spot every game if I could. I was at an NBA playoff game, that’s all I can ask for.
A lot of people tend to say that college games have a better atmosphere than NBA games — that was not the case on Saturday night. Bankers Life Fieldhouse was absolutely rocking throughout the night, especially in the fourth quarter. But, we’ll get into that a little later.
Being able to watch Carmelo Anthony play in person is quite a site. In the first quarter, I could have sworn he was having a bad shooting quarter, but when I looked at the stats, he was 3 of 5 from the field (5 for 8 in the quarter). I also saw him get an assist! Those seem to be pretty rare these days. I also got to witness the Lance Stephenson takeover, which was pretty exciting.
The third quarter was a blast. Iman Shumpert got HOT. At one point in the quarter he hit back-to-back-to-back threes. Right after Shumpert hit his, JR Smith came down and hit a three to make it four in a row; the Knicks were right back in the game after being down by double digits earlier in the quarter. Melo went on to shoot five of six from the field in the quarter to go along with Shumpert’s five of seven (four of four from three). The game was tied at 81 after three. This was exactly what I was hoping for.
The fourth quarter of a close-out game: Where excitement happens. A tied game going into the fourth quarter of a knockout game — what else could I ask for? Okay, I could ask for Michael Jordan to walk through the door and suit up, but that’s not realistic. The arena was one of the loudest places I have ever been to; I couldn’t hear my dad talking to me even when he was talking into my ear. With five minutes left and down by two, the Pacers went on a 9-0 run that put them up 99-92. Who was behind the run? None other then Lance “Born Ready” Stephenson. He had seven of the Pacers nine points.
The rest is history. All the Pacers had to do was hit some free throws to win the game — and that’s exactly what they did.
With about 20 seconds left, the chants started to break out. One of them happened to be “Beat the Heat”. I heard this chant at least three times as I was leaving the arena that night. It was amazing to see how much support a “small market” team got from their fans.
I hope this is one of many playoff games I attend in my lifetime because I had an amazing time. As a matter of fact, I just found out today I will be going to the Miami Heat vs Indiana Pacers game on Sunday. I already know that game will as a good, if not better, if only for the fact that I get to watch the one and only