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Pacers 128, Timberwolves 124: James Posey Calmly Ices the Win for Indiana

A common theme throughout preseason has been in regards to James Posey’s worth on the floor for the Pacers. It was recognized that his worth surely exists, but on the floor? After all, heading into tonight, Posey has been marginal at best, has had 17 FGA, only one of which was a two point shot. Tonight, however, in an exciting overtime win against the Timberwolves, Posey came up big with four free throws and a defensive rebound in the final seconds.

Of course, it’s a preseason game, but I still think Posey won a lot of new fans with this. He showed why he was one of the most coveted free agents in 2008, and why contenders still want his services. For him to guide a young Pacers lineup through the ups and downs of a close game to guide them to a victory, that’s a learning experience, one the young guys can put to good use.

But even Posey’s heroics in the final minute don’t tell the whole story of the Pacers win tonight. Despite a productive offensive output (including sixteen three pointers falling at a nearly 50% rate!), many of the same old issues came to light for Indiana: poor decision making leading to turnovers, bad offensive rebounding (until Roy Hibbert took it upon himself to make that a focal point in the fourth quarter), free throw disparity, and a defensive effort that simply didn’t show up.

For the positives, there were a lot of negative connotations in the penultimate preseason game; one Pacers fans can’t be too quick to dismiss. After all, for all the stressing Jim O’Brien has done on defense, little was made by the team to live up to that defensive mentality, with lackluster play all around, no exceptions, on the defensive side.

All in all, the Pacers walked away with the win, meaningless it may be, but they will have to hold down their own defensively better than this, a common theme that is manifesting itself in the 2010-11 bunch. After the jump, some observant observations!

  • Roy Hibbert may not have iced the game, but without his contributions, there would be no Posey finale. Roy finished the game with a monstrous 27 points and 16 rebounds, including six assists. Roy used his size to his advantage again tonight, and stepped up when the team needed a go-to down the stretch.
  • Brandon Rush deserves a lot of credit. He came out with a purpose in the first half, hitting six of his seven field goal attempts and making plays on both sides of the ball. He struggled shooting in the second half and eventually fouled out, but he remained active on both sides, hoping to show he’s got a use for this team yet. Protect the Promise, Brandon!
  • Paul George came ready to play, and helped the Pacers tremendously with a threepeat of three pointers in the fourth quarter. George finished 6-11 from the field with 17 points, including five boards. You just hope this can translate quickly into the regular season.
  • Darren Collison had a tough night all things considered. He finished with nine assists to only three turnovers, but was especially disappointing on the defensive end, enough so that Slick suggested maybe his starting job wasn’t safe, if no defense equals no playing time. But then again, no one would be playing after tonight if that were honestly how that philosophy were handled.
  • A.J. Price has struggled of late, but came on in the third quarter to give the Pacers a much needed punch from their third quarter slog.
  • Mike Dunleavy had a quiet, yet productive night offensively. As with the entire team, his defense was left at the door, but Duns was an automatic 16 points, and even pulled in 9 rebounds for his efforts; a sound, reliable game from a player who needs to fill in that void left by Troy Murphy.
  • Josh McRoberts had himself a rough night. Despite a relatively positive finish to his night in the fourth quarter, before fouling out, McRoberts was beaten up by Kevin Love and the Timberwolves front court all night. He managed 8 points on 4-11 shooting, but just never was able to get a flow going. Here’s to hoping his learning curve doesn’t hit a wall as well.

Preseason finale comes Friday when the Pacers travel to Chicago. It seems T.J. Ford can be expected to see some playing time as he fights back from injury. Meanwhile, Danny Granger did warm up tonight, and while it’s highly unlikely he will see action in Friday’s game, it’s good to know he’s in a position where he could if the team needed him to.