Since the last time the Pacers and Mavs met, Indiana a few new players. Danny Granger, who was destined to come off Indy's books at some point, was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers. In return the Pacers received Evan Turner and Lavoy Allen. Turner is more of a rotation player in Frank Vogel's system but how has each adjusted and performed since the trade?
Evan Turner is the only new addition to the playing rotation since it appears Lavoy Allen will be used in emergency situations only. Turner has added a lot more versatility to the reserve unit, but he also uses up a lot of possession. He is far better at creating his own shot than Granger but he also takes a lot more shots than Granger. As we've seen, depending on the night, Turner can help or hurt depending on if his array of mid-range shots are falling. His defense has actually been better overall than expected and certainly not a downgrade from Granger, but he still has his moments of getting caught and his three-point close outs often open up a lane for the shooter to scoot right by him if they are patient. Turner has also been forced to handle more point guard duties than expected with recent injuries to George Hill and C.J. Watson. In fact, in his third game, Turner ended up closing out a tight win in Boston by playing the point down the stretch. He's been thrown into the fire, so in a lot of ways, I've been impressed with his ability to jump into the fray while learning the team on the fly. But Turner's style of play likely won't change much even with an increased comfort level. The great thing is that he is a reserve player, so when he has it rolling, Vogel can use him in a variety of ways to extend his minutes and when he has the clanks, Paul George will be at the scorer's table earlier.
Last time we did a Q&A, I asked you if the Pacers' offense, which was starting to struggle, was a concern going forward. This post outlines Indy's offensive dip well. There is still a lot of season left but I pose the same question to you again, is the offense an area of concern?
The offense has been a real concern this week with the anemic output in Charlotte and Houston, but there were some circumstances in those games that didn't favor the Pacers and make panic over the situation premature. As has been the case most of the year, the bench production remains too inconsistent which always hampers the overall offensive output. Swapping out Turner for Granger has made things run differently with the reserve unit but the positive production remains inconsistent. An elbow injury to backup point guard C.J. Watson has also disrupted things with a key cog missing in the rotation forcing Turner to play more point guard.
As for the main offense with the starting unit, Roy Hibbert has been real inconsistent and knowing he's not getting a lot of shots, seems to fade away if he misses a couple of early opportunities. Paul George was beginning to find his groove following the All-Star break, averaging almost 26 points in the nine games following the break. In that ninth game against Utah, he took a hard foul on a dunk attempt and landed on his back and hasn't been the same since. He scored 26 in the next game but needed 23 shots. Then he score two and 13 in the following games and really looked stiff in Houston. Since the Utah game he's made just 13 of his last 44 shots.
So again, the offense is never fantastic but not a big concern when the Pacers can control the style of play. That hasn't been the case this week which is the real concern.
Indiana has lost three games in a row. They were trounced by the Bobcats and Rockets in consecutive games. Obviously, the offense wasn't a big help but where was the defense? How did the Pacers lose these games so badly?
The wear and tear of the regular season has been a factor of late and it all came crashing down in Charlotte and Houston this week. Watson is out. Paul George is dealing with his back. George Hill missed two games and is still playing through a strained shoulder. David West has had a hand injury for over a month now. Nagging injuries make going through challenging portions of the schedule even tougher which we saw this week with the fourth-game-in-five-nights debacle in Charlotte and then letting the Rockets run away in the second half after a chance to close the lead to one point early in the third quarter. The Bobcats broke the Pacers down by getting to the rim, led by Al Jefferson softening up the Pacers defense. In Houston, the Rockets just forced the tempo and made sure to run on Pacers' misses to not let the defense get set. Reminds me of a comment Doc Rivers made before playing the Pacers about his hope to ramp up the pace because the Pacers defense is so big and long, "why would you want to let them get their hands on you in the half court." The Pacers had trouble catching up and getting their hands on Charlotte and Houston this week. Oh, and Klay Thompson for Golden State, as well.
Warning flags have to be going up all across Pacers fandom with the recent skid. Still, Indy is tied with the Thunder for the best record in the league. What do the Pacers have to do to right the ship and get back to dominance?
As mentioned above, the Pacers have to return to controlling the style of play and making games a physical battle. Earlier in the year, teams would wear out by the end of the game or simply give up in the face of the Pacers relentless pressure. Now opponents are trying to up the tempo and force the Pacers out of the grind they'd prefer to play which has been easier to do of late. The Pacers also need to settle in on a style of play for the reserve unit as they incorporate Turner into the mix . With Watson hurt, Turner has been controlling the ball a lot and the results have been wildly up and down. Letting Turner play more off the ball will help when Watson returns since Turner should be more comfortable with the players around him after his crash course following the trade.
In a recent interview, Roy Hibbert said that he wants to get a life-size replica of the throne from the HBO series Game of Thrones. This seems like a rather impractical purchase and it is bound to clash with his current furniture. Is there any way we can talk him out of it and introduce him to Danish mid-century modern furniture? I know the perfect place for him to shop in Dallas.
Like his game, I think it is prudent for Hibbert to stick with the basics. He also recently bought a 8ft X 9ft bed which seems like a great move for the big fella. He may want to rethink is throne plans since it reminds me of Danny Granger's big plans for a bat cave at his dream home which made it all the way to the construction phase before government regulations, costs and well, sanity came together to shuttle the plans.
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Thanks, Tom. For more on the Indiana Pacers, head over to Indy Cornrows.