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Warner Home Video presents
"And a steal, Miller retreats to the 3-point line...and hits again!"
DVD ReviewI'm a die-hard fan of the Boston Celtics, but the NBA team that I'm geographically closest to is the Indiana Pacers. Only two hours away, I go to Indy at least once a year to watch my Celtics play in the gorgeous new Conseco Fieldhouse. This has made me an unwitting expert on the Pacers as well, and in the 15-plus years I've been making the trip, I've been a part of some of that franchise's most memorable moments. It's a privilege to now be able to relive some of these moments thanks to Warner's new boxed set Indiana Pacers Greatest Games: Volume One.
The set consists of four games, presented in their entirety, whose inclusion was based on a fan vote. The first disc has Game 5 of the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals, when the Pacers battled the New York Knicks. These weren't today's hapless, Isiah Thomas-led Knickerbockers, though, as Patrick Ewing and company had the New York faithful in frenzy, after a solid regular season and playoff run. Continuing that run would have to wait at least another day, as future Hall of Famer Reggie Miller was silent for much of the game, but exploded for 25 points in the fourth quarter alone! There's no real exciting finish to this one, but it's worth a look, if only to simply marvel at one of the best 12 minutes by an individual that you'll ever see.
Disc 2 houses Game 1 of the 1995 Eastern Conference Semifinals, which features the Reggie Miller highlight. It's a tough battle throughout, but with less than 30 seconds to play and the Pacers down six, Miller takes over. An improbable three-pointer is followed up by a Miller steal and another made basket to tie the game. I'll leave you to discover the final outcome, but I'm not sure we'll ever see this sort of clutch play by an individual to spark such an amazing comeback again. Be on the lookout for Miller's hilarious interaction with die-hard Knick fan Spike Lee, who really gets into it with the superstar from his courtside seat at Madison Square Garden.
The third disc has the Pacers squaring off with the legendary Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls. This is Game 5 of the 1998 Eastern Conference Finals. A hobbling Miller (hurt ankle) relies on a supporting cast of Rik Smits, Derrick McKey, Chris Mullin, and Jalen Rose to keep things close until a thrilling final minute. Reggie overcomes his injury to come through in the clutch again, but MJ has a final shot of his own...
Disc 4 is the only game of the bunch that clinched a playoff series for the Pacers and it was a big one. Game 6 of the 2000 Eastern Conference Finals once again features Indiana and New York. This time though, there wasn't a big finish or impossible play, as this game is all about the Pacers getting to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history. The outcome of that series will be left for a Los Angeles Lakers retrospective, as all Pacers fans care about is watching their team kill off past playoff demons and reaching the big stage.
I've had a love-hate relationship with Reggie Miller through the years. He's burned my Celtics so many times and I'll never forget attending a game where Miller hit an impossible shot at the buzzer then jumped around on the scorer's table, pumping his fists to the fans. Still, despite the bad memories, there's no arguing that Miller is an NBA legend. Wow, that was very hard to type, but after revisiting the four games in this set, any doubts to the contrary have been completely shed. The Pacers are a franchise that have undergone some recent turmoil, but had some truly unforgettable teams in the '90s, and it's a huge treat for their fans to have some of those memorable moments at their fingertips.
Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+
Image Transfer Review: Each game is presented in its original full-frame format, with the quality varying according to the event's date. Naturally, the 2000 game on Disc 4 is the best looking of the bunch, but each transfer has been cleaned up a bit, with very little dirt, or other defects.
Image Transfer Grade: B-
Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital 2.0 audio also varies from game to game, and again, the 2000 game holds up the best in this department. Most of the sound comes from the front, with the classic NBA on NBC music sounding great and the announcers' play-by-play remaining crystal clear throughout.
Audio Transfer Grade: B-
Disc ExtrasAnimated menu with music
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Packaging: Book Gatefold
Extras Review: Unfortunately, there aren't any extras in this set.
Extras Grade: D-
Final CommentsWarner Home Video has truly made a commitment to provide NBA fans with the best possible DVD product for some of the sport's most memorable games. Indiana Pacers Greatest Games: Volume One is another great release, presenting four exciting games in their entirety, and in a good-looking boxed set. The audio and video is exactly how we remember it, with the only gripe the complete lack of extra features.
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