The Pacers' opener at BLF turned into a race to 130 points which the Pacers won en route to an astonishing 140-131 win. Astonishing that 130 points wouldn't be enough to win. Astonishing because the Pacers were so entertaining on the offensive end while amassing that cool 140.
Get the ball and go was the mindset from the get go and with Darren Collison and Victor Oladipo leading transition for the Pacers the end-to-end speed is also astonishing. Both players are the offspring of parents who were track stars and left their boys lotsa speed and they love to use it. Collison is quick wihout a doubt, but even he marveled at Oladipo's speed, saying after the game that it reminds him of his own speed a few years earlier. Zoom!
That threat to attack helped the Pacers put up 102 shots with about 75 percent of those shots coming from behind the arc or around the rim, as this shot chart shows.
The three-point percentage wasn't great but the effort to get up shots forced the defense to spread out and opened up other opportunities. The Pacers made those equal opportunities with eight players scoring in double figures and most in efficient fashion. As Eddie White mentioned after the game, the combined 271 points was the second most points scored in an NBA opening night game ever. Sounds about right.
On the inefficient side, Lance Stephenson added to the fun but did need 19 shots to score his 16 points but he was admittedly a bit too hyped up early in the game. In fact, Nate McMillan imitated Lance telling him, "I'm too hyped!" in his post-game comments. Lance did have some nice PnR action with Domantas Sabonis who remains a rock in his reserve role. Sabonis scored 16 points, making all seven of his shots and adding seven rebounds in just 19 minutes.
On the court, Victor Oladipo led the way early with 19 of his 22 points in the first half before foul trouble slowed him down in the second half.
No problem, Collison (21 points, 11 assists) and Myles Turner (21 points, 14 rebounds) helped close out the W down the stretch. Collison's best play was a shot he DIDN"T take, late in the game with a four point lead and a little over a minute left. After a stop, Collison quickly had an open, corner three ready to launch but thought about time and score. Instead of shooting, he pulled it out and took a little time off the clock before scoring in the lane.
Off the court, the Pacers voted Myles Turner and Thaddeus Young as captains. Each player had two votes and couldn't vote for themselves. Turner's youth made his selection a surprise but as he mentioned after the game, there is plenty of veteran leadership to go around on this team.
Before the game, McMillan relayed a story about Turner stopping a run at the facility back in August to implore his teammates to raise their level of play and make sure they don't bring that mess back the next day. Holding players accountable and setting expectations - what's not to love?
There wasn't much to love about the Pacers defense which was often lost in the track meet that broke out. Collison admitted their conditioning needs to improve as the pace wore players down at times. Figuring out how to slow down opponents in the pick n roll remains a major issue for the Pacers. For their part, the Nets didn't get up as many shots as the Pacers but about 79 percent of their shots were threes or at the rim. Some of those shots at the rim were contested. Some.
Envisioning the Pacers trying to keep up with more talented teams in the league is why last night's win was plenty fun but also not overly promising when considering the long haul of an 82-game season. We'll find out in a hurry when the Pacers host the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday, a team coming off a 124-78 win over Phoenix on Wednesday while playing without C.J. McColllum.
Here are all of the highlights from the win.