Pacers turnover problems can be traced to unselfish and careless plays with the ball

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport

Not everything is perfect for the Pacers after their 3-0 start. Among the issues continuing to plague the Pacers is the sheer amount of turnovers they have at times.

After practice on Monday, Pacers forward Paul George downplayed the Pacers 3-0 start. Despite the early wins, he and his teammates aren't satisfied with how they have started the season.

"I think everybody can agree,  we're not playing our best basketball yet," George said. "There's so many areas we can improve on."

Turnovers remain an often glaring area of concern the Pacers need to improve. Although the situation may not be as bad as the numbers make it seem. The Pacers are often caught trying to force an extra pass to a player that may be expecting a shot or actually covered closer than they appear around the rim. PG mentioned the unselfish nature of the team as they try to share the ball too much while still mixing in new faces to the playing rotation.

The Pacers have 56 turnovers for the season including 21 in their win over Cleveland on Saturday. After the game, Frank Vogel admitted he may be part of the problem as he is the preacher of the pocket pass, spending plenty of time extolling the virtues of the extra pass. This causes potential problems when good shots are passed up in order to pass to a teammate for a potentially better shot near the rim.

"I'm a big pocket pass, extra pass guy," Vogel explained. "I really like to look for the big, big pass in the interior and when you emphasize that as much as I do, and I think these guys again, six turnovers just looking for that pass alone. So they're trying to execute what their wants."

Vogel went on to explain that the players need to read those situation properly to make the right play and agreed they need to cut down on the turnovers, but he does appreciate the effort his team is showing.

Playing a bit too unselfishly is certainly part of the turnover problem but there are also simple, careless mistakes with the ball that lean far more on the side of poorly reading the defense than being unselfish. I went back and looked at the turnovers logged on NBA.com to categorize the donations into three categories:

  • Unselfish - passing up a potential scoring opportunity to make an extra pass for a better shot that is well defended.
  • Careless - really poor read or silly mistake with the ball that should be avoided.
  • That's basketball - turnover within the normal flow of the game, primarily caused by good defense.

So here's how the turnovers against the Cavs broke down after further review.

Unselfish (6 turnovers)

  • Stephenson pocket pass to Scola in pick n roll stolen. Great idea but poor execution trying to force the pass to Scola.
  • Scola passes up a baseline jumper to pass to Ian Mahinmi cutting near the rim. Defender breaks up pass, leads to turnover.
  • Mahinmi received a nice slip pass from Paul George, had a potential five foot jump hook while moving toward the hoop, but instead tried to hit a teammate who was covered cutting from the top of the key.
  • Paul George passes up 3-ball attempt to pass to Hibbert as the big fella rolls to hoop, but Hibbert is expecting the shot not ready for pass.
  • With ball reversing around perimeter, Paul George tries to zip a pass into the deep post to Hibbert, but the pass had to travel too far and is stolen by Varejao.
  • Hibbert passes up baseline 10-footer to pass to Scola in lane in traffic.

Careless (7 turnovers)

  • Paul George tried to zip a pass to a cutter in the lane but Anderson Varejao easily swiped the pass. The may have been on of Vogel's unselfish six, but it was too poor of a read by PG.
  • Lance Stephenson in transition tries to drop a behind-the-back pass to Roy Hibbert.
  • Donald Sloan cutting along the baseline, receives a pass and runs out of room then jumps with nowhere to pass and throws it to a Cav. Probably shouldn't have been given the ball, but then made things worse by jumping without a plan.
  • Orlando Johnson called for a strange travelling violation after jab stepping a couple of times way out on the wing and moving his pivot foot. This wouldn't be called on many players, but still a sloppy play.
  • Paul George tries to push in transition with long pass to Stephenson, but the pass was too late with the defense back to intercept.This is close to a 'That's basketball' turnover but the timing of the play made it careless.
  • Scola with ball at elbow, looking over shoulder for pass option, gets ball poked out from behind for a steal.
  • Orlando Johnson bad pass from side out of bounds. Late passing to PG, allowed defense to catch up to ball.

That's basketball (8 turnovers)

  • Hibbert was well defended in the post, lost his balance and then the ball.
  • Hibbert stripped after putting ball on the floor in the post.
  • Hibbert called for offensive foul, trying to clear a little space too aggressively against Varejao.
  • Stephenson in transition, tries to avoid contact on driving layup but called for charge.
  • Scola lobs post pass to Hibbert, knocked away by defense.
  • Ian with ball on baseline, tries to pass out of double-team, ball stolen at top of key.
  • Solomon Hill loses ball trying to split double-team.
  • Garbage time shot clock violation, wild shot after running clock.
So as you can see, simply cutting down on the careless mistakes with the ball would make the effort to make a coach pleasing extra pass a little more tolerable. But the extra step to more efficient offense with few turnovers would be to not force the unselfish plays that are not there to be made. An open 15-footer is a solid NBA play compared to jamming a pass into a congested lane hoping to get a layup.

Vogel is always there to stick up for his team and in this case assume some of the blame for their careless plays with the ball. As the Pacers work to play not just like contenders but instead champs, making an effort to cut down on the turnovers will play a vital role.

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