Pacers Persevere in 'Villain' Vortex

Indiana has encountered a few “baddies” in these NBA Playoffs to date, but the largest challenge looms ahead.

If Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! has taught us anything, it’s that the road to victory teems with 16-bit baddies. The Pacers have certainly encountered their fair share in the NBA Playoffs, much to our social media/viewing pleasure. In the first round, Atlanta’s Pero Antic provided us with a mash-up of dime-store toy Wooly Willy and children’s poet Shel Silverstein.

In the semifinals, Washington has countered with not one, but two challengers: Marcin Gortat—Gortat the Impaler—and the hirsute Nene, affectionately known to Wizards fans as Lord Nene. Should the Pacers take care of business tonight at the Fieldhouse (7 p.m. on TNT) and advance to the conference finals, it’s tempting to throw Miami’s idiosyncratic Chris “Birdman” Andersen into the villain matrix (The Heat hold a 3-1 lead over the Brooklyn Nets). But defeating LeBron James—that’s the true boss battle. As anyone who’s ever held a game controller knows, you’ve got to beat the King to win the game.