Repeat after me, all you doomsayers, hand-wringers and various and sundry sports-talk Chicken Littles:
It's just one game.
Yes, the Indiana Pacers mailed it in so spectacularly in a dispirited loss to lowly Atlanta the other night the U.S. Postal Service called to see if it could get Roy Hibbert or George Hill to appear in a TV spot. Yes, they've played the second half of the season as if they were abducted by aliens. And, yes, right now, Vegas no doubt would have them a 3-to-1 dog against the Rockford Lightning.
But for all the wailing that the end is near and it bears a striking resemblance to Jeff Teague ... a a couple of cautionary notes, if you please.
1. Atlanta is still Atlanta.
2. Jeff Teague is still Jeff Teague, and not, the last I looked, Kevin Durant or LeBron James.
Sure, Teague did a passable imitation the other night, torching the Pacers for 28 points in a 101-93 Game 1 victory. But he's still the same Jeff Teague who averaged 16.5 points this season, not 26.5. And Atlanta is still the same Atlanta that went 38-44 in the regular season.
Which is to say, if Teague really were LeBron of KD, the Hawks would be a lot better than 38-44. But he's not. And they're not.
So, don't look for him to go for 28 every night out in this series. And don't look for the Hawks to drop 11 3s every night, which is how they won Game 1. Finally, don't expect the Pacers to play worse and with less passion in any game in this series from here on out.
In other words: Atlanta's already shown its best hand. The Pacers haven't even shown a mediocre hand. And even a mediocre hand -- the best they've able to manage in a bizarre second half -- ought to be enough to take down the Hawks.
No, the Pacers aren't the Pacers of last season or even last December. But the Hawks aren't the 1985 Lakers, either.
Who, if you recall, beat the Celtics in six games in the NBA finals after getting destroyed 148-114 in Game 1.
And so: Pacers in six.