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Pacers Edition: It’s just one game, but...

Way too early trends and observations from Indiana’s home opener.

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NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Indiana Pacers Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

It’s just one game, but....

Pressure may turn Myles Turner into a diamond

Expectations are high for Myles Turner, and he isn’t shying away from it. In fact, last night he embraced it, joining Shaquille O’Neal and Anthony Davis as the only players since 1983-84 to record 30 points, 16 rebounds, and four blocks in a game at age 20, per the Indy Star’s Gregg Doyel.

“I wouldn’t say pressure is the word for it,” Myles Turner tellingly said at Media Day of the news Nate McMillan was planning to start him at center. “First of all, I’m honored to be able to be the starting center for such a great organization. Second of all, I’m ready to go. I feel like I’ve been ready for this moment for, really, my whole life...”

Turner still needs to improve his pick-and-roll coverage, but his high, quick release on his jumper coupled with his timing as a shot blocker should leave little doubt as to his readiness to become a highly-coveted new age center.

Rio is already benefiting Paul George

Lost in all the well-deserved Myles Turner hoopla was that Paul George put forth a near 50-40-90 effort, shooting 50 percent from the field, 80 percent from three, and 87 from the charity stripe. But perhaps more impressive than his scoring efficiency was how he managed to pick his spots and be effective alongside multiple capable scorers.

"I can use that extra games and time to better my game," George told prior to winning gold. "I think with playing with USA, I'm so used to playing with the ball. We got five guys out there that's going to be able to score at will. Now it's about learning how to play off the ball. I think that's where guys take that next step. Learning how to space the floor. Learning how to cut. Learning how to play on the boards; battle the boards. I think just playing off the ball is where guys take that next step."

Whether making a shuffle pass to Thaddeus Young for a cutting dunk shot or setting up Myles Turner for three with under 2:00 minutes to play in OT, George was potent despite posting a lower usage percentage (19.2%) than Jeff Teague (27.4%) and Turner (25.9%).

Point Thad is going to be a thing

Few things were more exciting during the preseason than seeing Thaddeus Young, as a 6-foot-8 power forward, push the ball up the floor in transition, dribble behind his back, and pitch passes to trailing shooters with guard-like precision.

“His ability to rebound and push is so valuable for this group,” Paul George said during exhibition play. “...I think he’s an underrated playmaker. He’s been finding guys as good as anybody on this team on the break. It’s a huge luxury to have him at that four spot.”

At age 38, Dirk Nowitzki was no match for Young’s speed, making the lefty a seamless fit for Indiana’s fast-paced, read-based offense.

The Pacers have a designated driver

It was evident from opening introductions that Jeff Teague was happy to be home. The self-professed “shy guy” let out a boisterous roar as he ran out onto the court and later made a similar show of emotion — this time demonstratively motioning with his arms for the crowd to make some noise— when his team forced the Mavericks to take a timeout slightly over one minute into the game after stringing together a dynamic 6-0 run.

Regardless of whether he was energized by the rush of playing in the city he has tattooed on his arm or was extra motivated to perform by the news that a certain point guard from a certain city had signed a $70 million extension, there’s no denying that Indiana’s new point guard knows what to do with a ball screen.

In fact, the crafty guard aggressively attacked the paint to the tune of thirteen drives. After one game, Teague has already matched the amount of times his predecessor attempted at least thirteen free throws in a game over his entire tenure with the Pacers.

The defense ranged from porous to inscrutable

Dallas attempted 104 field goals last night. Of those, a gargantuan 56 percent were uncontested (no defender within 3.5 feet of the shooter). Granted, the Mavericks were slinging three-pointers (48), some of which were well-beyond the arc, with reckless abandon, which may partially account for the startling amount of space between shooters and defenders. However, Indiana’s recurrent miscommunication and seemingly unplanned for switches (i.e. Al Jefferson on Deron Williams, Rodney Stuckey on Dirk Nowitzki) made those looks far more open than they should have been in scramble situations.

“I thought we adjusted pretty well,” Dan Burke said of his team’s defensive effort. “We were doing things we hadn’t drilled yet; we hadn’t practiced.”

Still, even if Dallas’ pick-and-roll heavy offense made it tough for the Pacers to execute their practiced schemes, the team’s slow-to-react perimeter defense should have made it far tougher for J.J. Westbrook Barea to score 14 points on 20 (!) drives.

Perhaps practice will make perfect. Or, at the very least, reveal some bad habits.

“The things we talked about today,” Burke said of what the team needs to do to improve on that end of the floor. “Keep building our trust in each other by building our communication, (and) being in the right spot; being a little tougher in our assignments.”

George Hill’s penchant for east-west dribbling may not be missed, but his wingspan and willingness to fight over screens already is.