Keeping the Pace
The one concern that I have for the Indiana Pacers is that they’ll try to force themselves into playing up to last season’s expectations. Following up on a successful 42-24 season as the third seed in the East can be a difficult thing to do.
People have been able to study their game film and their tendencies religiously now. They’ll have teams like Boston, Miami, Atlanta, and Chicago paying more attention to them now than ever before.
Last season, they were able to sneak up on their opponent and win games. This year, they’ll be ready. But more importantly, what will the Pacers do to counter their counters?
The worst thing that could happen for the Pacers is for them to change their style of play because of the opposition and I don’t think that they will. Their bread and butter lies in the post through Roy Hibbert and Danny Granger.
Granger is their best weapon on the offensive end. He led the team in scoring with 18.7 points per game last year and was the second most efficient with 111 points per 100 possessions.
Running him through screens was something that the Pacers did a lot. Most of his shots came from plays like that. According to 82games.com 77% of his shot attempts were from jumpers and 61% of them were assisted.
He averaged 10.7 points per game from jump shots. That’s more than half of his point totals.
To continue to be effective and efficient, they’ve got to continue to work to get him and their other wings open opportunities on screens. That’s how they were winning last season along with their sturdy defense.
If they allow themselves to get too caught up in perimeter play they’ll be a lower-tier seed. That’s what they did in the postseason when they struggled to beat the Orlando Magic and when they lost to the Miami Heat.
There were moments when the ball was held too long and possessions were broken because of that. They’ve got to remain patient for the right shot and the right opening. Its going to come because the Pacers are bigger than your average NBA team.
Playing the point
The Pacers had some pretty consistent point guard play last season from Darren Collison and George Hill. Collison averaged 10.4 points per game and 4.8 assists per game while Hill averaged 9.6 points per game and 2.9 assists per game.
They could both run the Pacers’ offense and play the point perfectly for this team. There wasn’t much that they had to do but dump the ball off into the post and allow Roy Hibbert to go to work. If they weren’t doing that they were waiting for Danny Granger and Paul George to come off of a screen and hit them for open jumpers.
The Pacers’ offense isn’t perimeter oriented by any means. The best feature on this team is the frontcourt and there is no doubt about that. The most important thing for the point guard position was being able to run the offense and control the pace. That’s all.
It turned out that at by season’s end, Darren Collison would be benched in favor of George Hill. Hill was the Pacers’ most efficient player last season with an offensive rating of 117 and the closest to him was Granger with 111.
He was also a better defender than Collison as well. A culmination of these things led to his benching right before the playoffs.
However, when the playoffs came Collison turned into a completely different player. He led the team in PER with 23.2 but was only limited to 18.6 minutes per game. His per 36 averages were crazy. He was averaging 15.9 points on 51% shooting and had an offensive rating of 123.
After the postseason, you figured that they’d do their best to retain Collison, but they ended up trading him away for Ian Mahnmi–a piece that they really didn’t need.
You’d have to think that the Pacers are going to struggle at the point guard position this season. They’ve now got D.J Augustin who hasn’t been very good throughout his career and George Hill who has been consistent as a backup but never very good as a long-term starter.
This is a very gutsy move by the Pacers. We’ll see how it turns out for them in the end.
The Pacers have a very deep team. Last season they only had two players go over 30 minutes per game. Those players were Darren Collison and Danny Granger. With Collison gone, Granger may be the only player who goes over 30 minutes.
This strategy employed by Frank Vogel is a very smart one. This way they preserve all of their players. They had eight players play in 60 games or over and that’s not counting Leandro Barbosa who only played in 22 games for them after being traded there.
I suspect that Vogel will go the same route this season.
George Hill- 28.4 Mpg
Paul George- 29.5 Mpg
Danny Granger- 32.1 Mpg
David West- 26.1 Mpg
Roy Hibbert- 29.3 Mpg
Tyler Hansbrough- 24.2 Mpg
Gerald Green- 22.1 Mpg
D.J Augustin- 21.8 Mpg
Ian Mahinmi- 20.2 Mpg
Miles Plumlee- 14.2 Mpg
Lance Stephenson- 18.2 Mpg
Jeff Pendergraph- 20.9 Mpg
The Pacers are going to be boom or bust this season. As much as I hate to use that term, I truly believe that. They’re either going to be good or bad.
With teams having an offseason to assess their gameplans and their tendencies things are going to get tougher for them. They’re a young team that just experienced their first success. Its always difficult to not rest on your laurels an get a little lazy.
I think that they’ll be a good team again. They’ll be back in the postseason and they’ll be a threat to be a contender once more.