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Bojan Bogdanovic’s shots in paint are driving his early season success

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Welcome to week five of my Indycornrows column!

NBA: Indiana Pacers at Cleveland Cavaliers
 Indiana Pacers forward Bojan Bogdanovic (44) drives to the basket against Cleveland Cavaliers guard JR Smith (5) during the first half at Quicken Loans Arena. Credit: Ken Blaze
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Pacers beat the Cavaliers so badly on Saturday night that Cleveland fired their head coach.

All jokes aside, Indiana’s 119-107 win was yet another example of the Pacers’ ability to consistently beat bad teams in the post Paul George era.

A huge part of Saturday’s win was Bojan Bogdanovic and his 25 points on 71 percent shooting.

Yes, Bogdanovic has been spotty this year, including the two games he’s scored less than 10 points and one where he went 0 for seven.

But he’s also had two games with 20 or more points and is currently third in the league in three-point percentage at 59.1 percent.

He’s best shot has been the corner three. Bogdanovic has been able to sit in corner when the ball handler sucks in the defender on drives to the basket.

Bogdanovic has also been pretty good in transitions, just like he was last season.

But the real difference for Bogdanovic this season has been his ability to take more shots inside of nine feet.

In 2017-18 we saw him take 38 percent of his shots from inside nine feet. This year he’s shooting at 45.

Instead of settling for 28-foot three’s, he’s pushing himself to get in the lane and take a higher percentage of shots.

Compared to last season Bogdanovic’s shooting percentage is up nine percentage points. Part of that can be attributed to his aggressiveness against what are usually teams’ second- or third-best wing defenders.

This season Bogdanovic is starting to recognize the easy matchup he’s getting from Oladipo, garnering the attention of a team’s best defender.

Combine that with a growing confidence and condition and Bogdanovic might just continue to be Indiana’s second best defender, carrying the team on nights that Oladipo or Tyreke Evans struggle.

The games:

Trailblazers @ Pacers, Oct. 29 at 7 p.m.

One thing to watch: The Trailblazers have scored 120 points in four of five games this season; the Pacers rank third in opponents’ allowed points per game at 102.8. Can they hold Portland to 105 or even 110?

Pacers @ Knicks, Oct. 31 at 8 p.m.

One thing to watch: The only good part about this game is that it’s the Pacers’ first nationally televised game of the season. Maybe Oladipo, Evans or Myles Turner will have a chance to showcase why Indiana deserves more primetime games. Besides, the Pacers do a great job at beating bad teams. This should be an easy one.

Pacers @ Bulls, Nov. 2 at 7 p.m.

One thing to watch: I think the above sentiment could also be said for the Bulls, except that this game won’t be nationally televised. It is worth noting, though, that as I’m writing this Zach LaVine is averaging 29.3 points per game -- which is CRAZY!!!

Celtics @ Pacers, Nov. 3 at 6 p.m.

One thing to watch: For me this is the most exciting Pacer game of the week. I love the matchups between Kyrie Irving and Oladipo. I love watching Jayson Tatum and Gordon Hayward. And I love the fact that the Pacers won the season series 2-2 last season and could have won the series.

… I’m lowkey still mad at Bogdanovic.

There is no mailbag this week but there will be a special edition mailbag-only article next week, so send in your questions by filling out the form below or clicking here.

Have a great week and enjoy some good basketball.