The Indiana Pacers are 2-0 but they are far from firing on all cylinders which has been obvious in the first two games.
One of the projected strengths of the team was the bench with the addition of David West allowing Tyler Hansbrough to bring his unique burst of energy off the bench along with back court acquisition George Hill giving the team a steady option off the bench at either guard spot. Throw in Jeff Foster to help facilitate things at both ends and the Pacers bench should help extend a lead or dig out of an early hole.
The first two games have been Foster-free due to injury and the bench has struggled to keep the Pacers momentum rolling. Hansbrough has produced and his 15 points against Detroit gave the Pacers bench an advantage, but Detroit's bench isn't exactly imposing. Last night Toronto won the advantage 30-15.
The bench has to make a positive impact like they did in the playoffs last year for the Pacers to challenge better teams on the schedule. In the five-game series against the Chicago Bulls last April, the Pacers bench averaged 31.6 points per game compared to Chicago's 24 points per game and were only badly beaten in Game 5 (36-30). They need more than just Hansbrough to make things go and Mike Wells touched on the struggles with George Hill following last night's win.
Hill will keep shooting because you "can't make the ones you don't take. I'll keep firing away," he said. "Hopefully the basketball gods will start to give me a little love."
The biggest question mark so far has been Hill's play off the bench. He hasn't provided a spark but instead seems to be figuring out just what to do on the court. He's had open looks but the ball just isn't falling for him as he's made just 2 of 12 shots and 0 for 6 from three land. Since he started playing in the NBA, the fact that Hill hasn't lit up the scoreboard has always perplexed me.
This guy was a scoring machine in high school, with a pure release and soft shot that seemed to melt through the net. He led the state his senior year with 36.2 points per game on an undermanned Broad Ripple team. I swear I saw Carmel throw four guys at him in a sectional game his senior year and he still scored around 30, working his way to the line or finding an opening to release his shot.
The shot hasn't change but the results aren't the NBA which remains a mystery. Yes, I realize the game is completely different, but an open shot on a ten-foot hoop is an open shot on a ten-foot hoop. The good things is that we know that game is in there and as he gets more comfortable with what he's doing with the Pacers he'll start cashing in those open shots.
And if Hill's teammates can do the same thing, then the offense will become an asset that won't require the defense and rebounding effort shown in the first two games to carry the team to wins.