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Ball Don't Lie

NBA Playoffs Fan Fiction: Miami Heat vs. Indiana Pacers

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Austin Croshere and Chris Gatling exemplify the East in 2002 (Victor Baldizon/ Getty).

In which the Indiana Pacers get in a plane crash and attempt to survive in the snow while being hunted by bears that coincidentally look like the Miami Heat.

The Indiana Pacers' plane ride to a diplomatic basketball tournament in Siberia had started normally enough. Then, while flying over the Alaskan hinterlands, a goose flew into the main engine and everything went terribly wrong. Luckily, the pilot was able to crash-land in a snowy field and everyone survived. Unluckily, they were 100 miles from the nearest town and all communications had gone out.

Coach Frank Vogel, the natural leader, assembled his squad into two units and told them to forage for food. He, as well as benchwarmers Lance Stephenson and Dahntay Jones, would attempt to salvage all they could from the wreck in the hopes of creating makeshift tents. As Coach Vogel tried to fashion a set of Siberian opponent scouting DVDS into a reflective Morse code system, he heard a scream. When he went out to look, both Stephenson and Jones were gone, their limited-edition Foamposites and a trail of blood the only signs that they had ever been present. Coach Vogel was momentarily spooked but figured some casualties were likely in any horrific plane crash. Little did he know that things would get much worse.

Soon after, one of the Indiana units returned. Leandro Barbosa, a man used to a more temperate climate, was now wearing a protective suit of pine cones sewn together with pine needles over his usual shorts and tanktop. Louis Amundson had collected firewood. Tyler Hansbrough, his mouth red with blood, had caught 15 squirrels for their dinner. Coach Vogel congratulated his men and waited for the other group to return.

As they waited, Amundson fashioned a fire and began to cook the squirrels. Barbosa announced that he had to use the bathroom and headed off into the woods. While struggling to take off his protective suit of pine cones, Leandro heard a rustling in the trees. "Tyler! Did you climb a tree again?" There was no response. Seconds later, there was more rustling. He reaffixed his pine cone suit and walked towards the noise.

He had made a terrible mistake. Instead of finding Tyler Hansbrough climbing or trying to box with a tree, he happened upon three enormous Kodiak bears. The first, a lanky bugger who resembled some sort of missing link between a pterodactyl and a grizzly, was off on its own. Another shorter but thicker bear with a peculiar chest pattern that resembled a sweater vest over a tie, was chewing on Lance Stephenson's gold chain. The last, a tank of an animal and the most fearsome, had a chunk of hair missing from its forehead. Before Barbosa, could scream for help, the trio pounced upon him.

Meanwhile, at the camp, Coach Vogel and the others welcomed back the other unit. Danny Granger, it seems, had made a makeshift bow-and-arrow and shot down several caribou. David West, a seasoned outdoorsman, knew exactly where to find berries and plants that could serve as medicine. Paul George had jumped high to reach superior firewood. Everyone congratulated each other on a job well done. Roy Hibbert told jokes to lighten the mood. While everyone knew that they had a tough journey ahead and that it might be several days before they were rescued, they also were in high spirits. They were so pleased, in fact, that no one much wondered what had happened to Leandro. After a fine meal of caribou and squirrel, the Pacers went to sleep on surprisingly comfortable beds of plane blankets and NBA towels.

They were awoken by the screams of Paul George. Coach Vogel popped up instantly to see the shortest bear pulling him into the woods. Before Danny Granger could help, the tank bear had thrown him against the side of the plane. Roy Hibbert struggled with the lanky bear and initially got it to smile with a goofy pantomime, but then the shortest came over, admonished the lanky bear, and pulled off Hibbert's left arm. David West attempted to run away, but the tank bear chased him down and stopped him. Tyler Hansbrough did his best to fight with an ill-advised 1-on-3 charge, but he was pretty much the exact opposite of successful.

Eventually the bears left having taken or maimed all but Coach Vogel, George Hill, and Darren Collison. The trio regrouped and attempted to formulate a last-ditch plan. The odds were against them, but the players had hope. Unfortunately, they had only one rifle with which to fight back. At first, Coach Vogel came up with a strategy in which they would encircle the bears, at which point Hill would take first shot at the shortest bear and then throw the gun to Collison on his left. Deciding that was no good, the players said that one player would have to take out all three bears. Hill was known as the best marksman. Collison, however, was craftiest and could perhaps get off three shots the quickest. Coach Vogel weighed his options. It was a tough choice, but he had to pick one. Eventually, based on the state of the bags under their eyes, he picked Darren Collison.

Two hours later, the bears returned. The remaining Pacers were ready. Collison took the rifle and aimed at the shortest bear. Yet, before he could get a shot off, the bear had attacked and knocked the gun out of his hands. The Pacers' plan was ruined. Hill reached for the rifle and grabbed it, but the tank bear immediately pinned his arms. Coach Vogel lasted the longest, as the lanky bear was for some reason most concerned with tickling him.

But the Pacers never had a chance. The bears were simply too strong and too fast.

Prediction: Heat in 5.

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