Indiana Pacers reserve guard Leandro Barbosa didn't waste much time showing what he could do for the Pacers off the bench after he arrived in Indy from Toronto following a trade deadline deal. In his first game at the Fieldhouse, Barbosa showed his speed and scoring ability, pitching in 12 points to help the Pacers beat the Los Angles Clippers on March 20th.
Since Barbosa started playing with the blue and gold, the Pacers are 10-4 and 6-0 in games in which Barbosa scores in double figures. He has been just what the Pacers needed, an additional offensive boost to the second unit as a guy who keeps pressure on opponents by running the floor. With the ball, he seems to stalk plays with his shoulders hunched over as he probes for any opening to exploit and when he squeaks through to the rim, he has a great ability to finish the play.
But Barbosa brings far more to the Pacers than his 18 minutes per game off the bench. The guy brings a wonderful spirit to the locker room with a personality that quickly blended with his new teammates and made a strong impression. With his former team in town on Monday, Toronto coach Dwayne Casey summed up what the Raptors lost when Barbosa was dealt, as Conrad Brunner reported.
"He's one of the most beautiful people that you'll ever want to be around. He was kind of the spirit of our team and we've got to replace that. We've got to get it out of some of the people we have because Leandro is a beautiful young man and Indiana is a lucky organization to have him, not only on the court but off the court."
Indiana Pacers coach Frank Vogel knows exactly what Casey means as he's enjoyed the chance to work with Barbosa.
"He's become very beloved around here," Vogel said about Barbosa. "Our trainers, our coaches all speak very highly of him. For me as well, he's just been whatever I can do for you coach and he's got his little accent in there and his smile, he's just a vibrant personality that has really lightened up the locker room."
Combine that spirit with his playoff experience and you have a guy who will be even more important to the Pacers as they try to move past the first round in the playoffs. But until then Barbosa will continue fortifying the Pacers depth as part of the second unit. When he's on the court and that shot is falling, Barbosa is certainly a pleasure to watch, almost as fun as when his teammates turn and fire a pass toward the rim for a streaking Barbosa to haul in and cash in at the rim.