The Indiana Pacers' past two wins over the Philadelphia 76ers and injury-ravaged Dallas Mavericks won't go down in franchise lore, but they may be remembered this season as the turning point when Jim O'Brien found a way to strike a nice balance between utilizing the talents of his young players while still putting his team in the best position to win games.
Bob Kravitz gives JOB his due for finally filling his playing rotation with key young players, namely Tyler Hansbrough, Paul George and Darren Collison, extracting their energy, expanding their role when warranted and managing the inconsistency when not.
The past two wins weren't about the opponents but about the Pacers continuing to defend well and then finding an offensive flow that created more good shot opportunities which usually meant more made shots.
While the youth gets credit for stepping up, Jeff Foster and Mike Dunleavy deserve credit for being the steadying force in the playing rotation, helping to fill in those inconsistent gaps left by the young guys. Dunleavy is there to cover up for Brandon Rush or George and then close out games. Foster can help spackle over rough nights from Tyler Hansbrough or Roy Hibbert.
JOB has been able to compromise by giving young guys the opportunity and riding them when they have it going (Hansbrough against the Spurs, George against the Mavs) but then limiting the when they don't. This will give the Pacers the best opportunity to play well each night and compete for wins on a consistent basis. Striving towards consistency should be the goal for this young team regardless of the opponent because the wins will take care of themselve in the East, if that's the case.
After the jump, a few more links of interest.
- Box score
PACERS: Game Rewind: Pacers 102, Mavericks 89
Game Rewind has interviews, highlights, analysis, notes, quotes and stats from the Pacers' game against the Dallas Mavericks Wednesday in Conseco Fieldhouse.
Pacers take joy in defeating depleted Mavericks
Mike Wells reports on the Pacers feeling good after two wins despite the circumstances.
AP: Rush leads Pacers past Mavericks
Cliff Brunt reports on the Pacers win.
Mavericks' first step on road trip is a stumble | Dallas Mavericks News
Eddie Sefko reports on the Mavs' slipping into full struggle mode without Dirk Nowitski.
Pacers' youth movement is the right way to finish year | The Indianapolis Star
Bob Kravitz thinks Jim O'Brien has finally gotten it right by relying more on his young players to lift the team's level of play.
Pacers Beat Dirkless Mavs
Jared Wade likes what he's seen of late from the Pacers.
- NBA: Paul George's Career Night Lifts Pacers Over Mavericks, 102-89 - SB Nation Indiana
Indiana Pacers Defeat Out-Of-Step Dallas Mavericks 102-89 - Mavs Moneyball
LJRotter recaps the Mavs' loss.
Rapid reaction: Pacers 102, Mavs 89 - Dallas Mavericks Blog
Jeff Caplan breaks down the Mavs' loss from a Dallas perspective.