My immediate response: HELL YES. While that may be a homer pick on my part, I ask you, why not? The Pacers are 2-1 since Lance has returned to the team with a tough loss against the Cavaliers in double overtime. The two wins were against playoff teams in the Raptors and Bucks. With the return of Lance, the Pacers have transitioned from a team imploding to a team that no one wants to meet in the playoffs.
A few days ago their odds of breaking the top eight were as low as 65%. The team was on a disgusting three game losing streak with playoff hopes becoming bleak. Enter Sir Lance A Lot:
Lance makes game changing plays but that’s not his strength. He is so intense while he is on the court that he motivates his teammates. Paul George and Jeff Teague are playing with more energy. You can see it in their output but also in their mannerisms.
Possibly the most impressive aspect of Lance’s return is that he isn’t struggling to find his role with the team. Often when players join teams late in the season, they struggle to fit in smoothly. For Pacer fans, a good example of this is Evan Turner. Turner was acquired in a trade three years ago in what seemed like the perfect move for the team to finally eclipse the Heat in the playoffs. Fast forward to the playoffs and Turner is losing his minutes to Rasual Butler.
Larry Bird may have struck gold with the signing of Lance Stephenson. Regardless of this year’s outcome it will be exciting to see what he will be capable of after spending an entire offseason with the team. An added bonus to Lance being around this offseason is that he has already spoken about his strategy to keep Paul George around:
Long Live Lance “Bornready” Stephenson.
In case you need more Lance in your life here is the best highlight tape I could find.
PS: The Pacers are going to get the seven seed and beat the Celtics in six games. You heard it here first. Go Pacers!
Photo via Rocky Padila