“If ya’ll don’t respect the Indiana Pacers now, I have no respect for you,” Oladipo said after the Pacers’ 105-101 loss. “That’s just how I feel. Nobody thought we were going to be here, not one person. But us in the locker room. I feel like we’ve earned our respect from everyone now.”
Oladipo had a breakout series following a breakout season, making his first All-Star team. His 30 points, 12 rebounds and six assists in Game 7 had him finish the series with averages of 22.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.4 steals and six assists per game.
He was the driving force in the Pacers quick rebuild in the wake of Paul George forcing a trade last summer. The players the Pacers got for George ended up having a strong first postseason together. In addition to Oladipo, Domantas Sabonis averaged 12.4 points and 4.6 rebounds off the bench.
“Nobody thought we were going to be here,” Oladipo said. “If I told you we were going to be here in October you’d have looked at me like I was crazy.”
Moments after the game ended, Oladipo texted trainer David Alexander and asked him when he could start training for next season. Alexander posted the text on his Instagram account.
Oladipo went through a shooting slump in Games 3-5, going just 12-of-49 from the field as the Cavs threw double teams his way. Oladipo said that experience and watching LeBron James assemble an incredible series will act as a driving force this summer.
“I don’t know how to take time off. I had someone tell me ‘take a break and enjoy my life.’ This is my life,” Oladipo said. “I feel like I’ve got a lot of room to improve. This summer I’m going to go to work so I can come back even better.”