Win over Cavaliers reveals value of new bench players for Pacers

Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

C.J. Watson and Luis Scola stepped up in expanded roles against Cleveland and helped the Pacers keep rolling to a 3-0 start.

Midway through the third quarter of the Pacers win over Cleveland on Saturday night, Frank Vogel spun around and calmly summoned Luis Scola off the bench.

Despite the trying circumstances, the act of turning to Scola in that situation had to feel pretty good for Vogel.

David West was uncharacteristically gathering touch fouls (sure they probably left a bruise, but for DWest, touch fouls) and he picked up his fourth foul with just over six minutes remaining in the third quarter. That sent West to the bench and brought in Scola to join a starting lineup that also had C.J. Watson filling in at point guard for George Hill.

The two newcomers have been solid through the first three games, but their role in maintaining the status quo during valuable minutes against Cleveland really showed the value the pair brings off the bench. Paul George described it as a "luxury" to be able to turn to Watson and Scola when needed.

"We haven't had that in awhile," George said. "To have a strong bench, guys that we can rely on when starters go down, it's a great feeling."

As for David West, a description of solid from the power forward amounts to high praise and he had no concerns when Watson had to start and he had to head to the bench with foul trouble.

"We've got solid guys on our bench," West said. "C.J.'s been consistent throughout his career, when he's asked to step in for guys, he's always played well. Same thing with Luis. We understand what we have with those two guys off the bench."

Watson and Scola seemed to plug-in to those starting rotation minutes seamlessly without having to drastically alter the way the Pacers played. Vogel said he might tweak the play calling a little bit to best fit the players on the court, but neither reserve seemed to impact the other starters on the floor.

In fact, Paul George really enjoys the power forward combo of West and Scola because both players have enough similarities in their games that he doesn't notice a difference when he's on the court.

"I consider them both (West and Scola) the same style," George explained. "They play hard, laser shot from 17-feet out and they really stretch the floor and can offensive rebound the ball. They just play hard, so it is a tough matchup for teams."

And being a tough matchup for teams is all Frank Vogel cares about regardless of which players he has on the court. The bottom line is competing at a high level for all 48 minutes.

"Look, we want to win every possession the entire game," Vogel said when asked about the strong bench play thus far.

"We want to get a stop every time on defense and we want to score every time on offense. You can't have your starters in there all 48 minutes so you need guys to step up off the bench. That's a critical element to trying to accomplish what we're trying to accomplish."

On Saturday, it was mission accomplished thanks to a couple of new faces off the bench stepping up.

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