Most Pacer fans have struggled beneath the shadow of that awful night in Detroit in 2004. At that moment all hopes for a title vanished and the team's image was tarnished. Since that time we've tempered our expectations. For the first time since that night fans have a little hope for a deep playoff run:
The Pacers should not only make the playoffs this season, but should grab no lower than a fifth seed and even make a run at home court in the first round. They're not going to challenge Miami, Boston and probably Chicago in the Eastern Conference, but they can duke it out with Orlando, Atlanta, the Knicks and Philly (with other teams' hopes still to be determined by whom they add or lose).
"Finish this sentence: The last time you had expectations for this team, it was what year?" I asked Jeff Foster.
He jogged his memory, using The Brawl in the 2004-05 season as the guidepost.
"Probably '05-06, when we had Ron (Artest), Jack (Stephen Jackson), Jermaine (O'Neal) and all those guys," he said. "Until that fell apart."