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The Pacers and the Placebo Effect

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Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

In medicine, it's called the placebo effect, that is, where a sham treatment produces a false sense of a cure. The effect is often exhilarating, but almost never long-lasting. At some point, there is a realization that the underlying problem still exists.

In basketball, there is an analogy. The Nets are experiencing the aftermath of the placebo effect, a realization that the underlying problems they experienced in December have not been cured, that the exhilaration of January was temporary. So what is the real cure? Is it a new player, leadership, a change in coach's combinations or just simple rest? We're not likely to find out soon. The ravages of the schedule are upon us.

The Nets flew off to Indianapolis after losing in embarrassing fashion once again, this time to the undermanned Spurs. They are now playing .333 against winning clubs and Indiana has a winning record (31-20) and two games ahead of the Nets in the standings. So it's an important game ... for a lot of reasons.

The Bankers Life (formerly Conseco) Field House is a tough place for an opponent to play. The Pacers are 20-4 there. Only four teams have a better home record. And before losing to the Raptors in overtime on Friday, they had reeled off five straight, beating the Heat, Bulls and Hawks in a stretch of five days. They won all by double digits.

The Pacers also are the best rebounding team in the NBA and the second best defense in terms of points allowed. The former is normally a Nets strength. The latter bodes bad for a team already in a scoring slump. Then there are two Nets nemeses, David West and Paul George, who are playing extremely well. Although the game is in Indianapolis, Brooklyn native Lance Stephenson is likely to want to give the fans back home something to cheer about. Danny Granger is unlikely to play. His return is days away, however.

The Nets are healthy, not that that seems to matter. With the exception of some lost games to Brook Lopez and Gerald Wallace, they've been healthy all year. Their problems seem to rest in their head and the placebo effect appears to have run its course.