While no one exactly picked the Indiana Pacers to beat the Golden State Warriors and bring their 22-game win streak to an end, there were suggestions that maybe, just maybe, if they played a perfect game, they could knock the Warriors off of their perch. Those suggestions were quickly stifled as the Warriors jumped out to a huge lead and beat the Pacers 131-123.
After the game, Paul George said the Pacers need to come to terms with the fact that, while they’d like to be where the Warriors are, they’re nowhere close, per Candace Buckner of the Indianapolis Star.
“We got to be real with ourselves. We’re not the Golden State Warriors. We have to come to that,” George said. “We’re not trying to mimic them. I think their style of play is what we want to be like. We want to spread the floor and have guys be able to make plays on the perimeter, but we don’t have the personnel they have.”
George touches on a larger point that the rest of the league is slowly accepting. Most teams would like to replicate the Warriors’ style of play, but no other team has their personnel. The Pacers have a do-it-all star forward in Paul George, but he can’t play exactly like Draymond Green or even Andre Iguodala. The Utah Jazz boast similar defensive versatility to Golden State, but hardly the same shape-shifting identity on the other end. Not even the all-encompassing effect of LeBron James makes the Cleveland Cavaliers a reasonable facsimile of the defending champions.
Playing exactly like the Warriors would mean cloning their roster, which is still illegal. Just because the Pacers aren’t an exact replica of the Warriors doesn’t mean they’re bad, or somehow wrong in a general basketball sense. They are who they are, and while they may not have beaten the Warriors (and no other team has had any luck in that area), they’ve still emerged as one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference.