The Thunder outrebounded the Pacers by 10, but nine of Adams’ 13 rebounds were on the offensive glass which offered OKC back-breaking second chances that the Pacers were unable to overcome.
After Adams and the Thunder left town, the Pacers’ inconsistent rebounding effort remained at the Fieldhouse. Hitting the glass is always a struggle for the Pacers and requires a team effort, as Nate McMillan explained on Thursday to Pacers.com.
"We talk about it every night before the game," McMillan said. "We have to gang rebound. Part of that is our bigs boxing out and our guards coming down and helping smash and getting two or three guys on a guy like Adams. But a lot of the rebounding starts with us controlling the ball. If we can keep the ball in front of us and force them to shoot over the top, then our guys can stay attached to those bigs. If our bigs have to come over and give help and then try to get back to their bigs and box them out, or you have a guard trying to smash on a big guy, you're in trouble."
The four guards in the Pacers rotation combined for 17 rebounds against the Thunder with Lance Stephenson grabbing eight. Stephenson is always active on the glass but when the full group is able to rebound at a higher rate, everything works better at both ends. To put it simply, when the guards get it off the defensive glass they can quickly get it going to the other end.
On Friday, the Pacers face another rough test around the rim with the Pistons and Andre Drummond in town. Drummond is another physical glass eater who will make life rough on Myles Turner and Domas Sabonis. While Drummond will get his, the Pacers have to find a way to neutralize his impact on the game by employing the "gang rebound" mentality McMillan mentioned.
This will be the third meeting against the Pistons, and while home court may have played a role in the teams splitting those games, a look at the rebound numbers also reveal an important indicator of success.
Drummond hauled in 21 rebounds, helping his team amass a 12-rebound advantage in the Pistons' 114-97 win at Detroit in the first meeting. The four Pacers guards combined for only 12 rebounds.
In the rematch at BLF, the Pacers rallied from a 10-point deficit at the start of the fourth quarter to win, 107-100. The spirited comeback was the second game in the team's current 10-4 stretch in which rallying from behind and at least fighting to the final buzzer have become the norm.
Once again Drummond was a beast on the glass, hauling in 15 rebounds, but his impact was neutralized thanks to a monster night on the glass by the guards. In fact, Victor Oladipo matched Drummond by grabbing 15 rebounds alone. The other three guards combined for another 15 rebounds and the Pacers ultimately finished the game with an 8-rebound advantage.
So here we are again, after getting physically tossed around by the Thunder, Turner and Sabonis face another tough challenge which will require them to raise their level of physical play. That effort may not result in many more personal rebounds, but doing a better job of occupying the Detroit bigs will allow the Pacers guards to also hit the glass, get the ball and go.