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Pacers' Chemistry Remains A Work In Progress, But Well Worth The Effort

On the Dan Dakich show this past Wednesday, Coach Dakich and Quinn Buckner (audio link) delved into one of my favorite topics related to basketball and that is the team dynamic and meshing personalities to create strong chemistry.  The discussion began with a little praise for Roy Hibbert and how his work ethic has helped his game develop while his personality has helped the team develop.

I know all of the advanced stats are interesting and do a pretty good job of indicating what is working and what isn't for a team. In fact, I'm constantly poring over those numbers looking for insights. But the element of bringing five guys together from different walks of life to trust each other and play as one also plays a big role in sustained success. It's the reason you can't plug all of the new stats into an algorithm and predict the outcome of an NBA game. You just don't know how the human element will impact a game from one day to the next.

After the jump, a key portion of the interview with QB's thoughts on chemistry, along with T.J. Ford working on just that type of thing on his off-day after taking a step backward in that regard on Wednesday night.

Dan Dakich:  Let me ask you, and I'm really interested in this. I went to the Denver Nuggets game and they were awful. The Pacers were God-awful in that game. And I said on this show, if guys don't really want to play or they don't like each other, I know it's only game two or three, but find somebody else. Now two weeks, fast forward, tremendous. Fun team to watch. Energized. Have they found the chemistry, here Quinn, by playing smaller? I know, you know Troy Murphy's a big part of this and he's been out, but have they found a little chemistry here going smaller?

Quinn Buckner:Yes, that really has been what's transpired. It's been interesting as you might imagine, for me watching this team as a small team, because I know you can have success with that but not that kind of success. We looked at the Denver game and I agree with you, the team was very lethargic and not enthused about being out there, but I take that to the Boston Celtic game when it was completely opposite. So much so, that I contend the Pacers ran the legs off the Celtics. But they did it because they enjoyed playing for each other. I'm watching Dahntay Jones making sure he's moving his hands in that talk motion to make sure you talk defensively and the whole chemistry, the whole feeling about one another -- because you know, in this game, not unlike any group dynamic, if you don't feel for each other or want to help support each other you don't have a chance for success.

I'm seeing more and more guys pulling for each other. I remember about three, maybe it was four years ago, Larry and I were sitting in his office and we were talking about the team and it became clear to me, I said, Larry, these guys don't like each other. He looked at me like I was crazy and said, What do you mean?  I said, Larry, watch them, watch the team when a guy is on the foul line and he makes a foul shot. Not a person looks at him, makes a step toward him, gives him a high five or a low five or anything. They don't like each other. And until you get to the point that you like each other, I think you have a hard time playing for each other and therefore with each other. But I don't think that's the case here. I just think this team has done a much better job and hey, Dak, there are a lot of guys that are new on this team. They had to get to know each other and they're still growing.

The chemistry issues will remain as the team continues to figure out their rolls and how to play with each other. Case and point, Dahntay missing T.J. on the wing in the Knicks game and T.J. expressing his exasperation to the world. But that's on-court stuff that can be worked out (preferably in the locker room) and certainly doesn't prevent the two players from continuing to build a relationship to help foster that future success. So it was nice to see a tweet from T.J. todayabout how he and Dahntay were hosting the Pacers annual Thanksgiving Dinner at the Fieldhouse today for folks at the area missions and shelters. Sure he misspelled Dahntay's first name (Donte) but this is a work in progress, so we'll take any positive steps we can get. Maybe he can get Dahntay to change the spelling to Donte. I know I'd sure appreciate it.