Tempo was again a huge factor in the Indiana Pacers securing their second preseason victory, topping the Chicago Bulls 115-108. Please forgive the redundancy in pointing out the tempo, but this is going to require an adjustment period for the senses of every Pacers fan that spent the last five years cheering for a smash-mouth, defensive first brand of basketball.
So even though it's preseason, it's eye-opening to watch the Pacers play this brand of ball, blitzing through the first quarter, scoring 33 points, shooting 50%, and moving the ball with relative ease. The Pacers had 26 assists and rebounded well for a second straight game, topping Chicago 55-40, with 13 offensive rebounds to just four for Chicago. The Pacers improved in three-point shooting as well, hitting nine on the night, led by Jeff Teague and Monta Ellis, each 2-3.
This explosion of offense may come with a cost, however, as the defense of the Pacers continues to show concerning holes. Teague and Joe Young really struggled keeping Rajon Rondo out of the paint, and Al Jefferson's well worn defensive lapses were on full display. The defensive effort was better in the second half, helping them top Chicago in the third even when their own offense hit a speed bump. But while the defensive improved, sloppy play returned for the Pacers, who had a woeful 20 turnovers after a stellar first game.
Teague and Jefferson were fantastic offensively, however, scoring 10 and 15 respectively, but there were a lot of notable performances on a night Paul George struggled with seven points on 3-11 shooting. Glenn Robinson III had a 17 point night on 6-7 shooting, stellar efficiency to go with five rebounds and a pair of steals. Monta Ellis and Teague were impressive at attacking the rim, with Ellis scoring 14. Rodney Stuckey lived at the line for nine of his game high 20.
Aside from Robinson, the most impressive performance came from Thaddeus Young, who showed his wide range of skills in rebounding (three offensive boards as part of eight total), while also dishing four assists and picking up a sly steal in the paint. Young being advertised as an effective player who can make things happen without being a focal point was on display, and he could be a key part of Indiana finding improved success this season.
At this point, it's difficult to know what things to take from Indiana's success in running; not only is it the preseason, but teams haven't had an opportunity to scout this team. It's hard to imagine the Pacers reaching Paul George's predicted 115 points a night when teams begin to lock in, but it's sure been an exciting start to Indiana's newest era. Game 3 of the preseason will be Saturday, on the road against these same Bulls.