This is what the Pacers were planning on after altering their playing rotation during the offseason to add more shooting and playmaking depth off the bench.
On a night that looked like it could quickly become a disaster after the starting unit struggled to make shots early, the bench lead by Tyreke Evans came to the rescue and reset the game in the Pacers favor, leading to a 99-91 win over the Miami Heat.
The Pacers were lucky to be down just nine points after the first quarter considering they made just 28 percent of their shots. But Tyreke Evans hit a three-pointer late in the first and then added eight more points in the second quarter to combine with 10 points from Cory Joseph and the Pacers were up seven at the break and never trailed again.
During the four off days the Pacers enjoyed, Nate McMillan and Victor Oladipo spent time encouraging Evans, in different ways, to drop the nice guy act and ball like the dog he can be on the court.
Following the game, Evans said that McMillan told him to play like he was back in Philly. Instead of looking to move the ball first, he should look for a way to score until the defense forces him to pass.
Oladipo took a more comedic route, starting to refer to Evans as John Stockton and telling him to quit playing that Stockton game. As the all-time-by-a-mile NBA leader in assists, Stockton’s style of setting up teammates was not what Vic wants to see from Tyreke. He wants, and last night needed, Evans to get buckets to help ease the scoring burden on 4.
So for one night, everything worked for the Pacers as planned. If Oladipo doesn’t have it on offense, there is enough depth to cover up and earn a win.
“Going from a good to a great team is being able to win games like this,” Oladipo said after the game. ”When we’re not our greatest offensively but the bench picks us up. These wins are big. These wins are going to mean a lot down the road.”
Indeed, but as Cory Joseph emphasized everything worked for the bench, but it was one night. Now they have to do it consistently. Then add in a normal night from Oladipo and this team will be ready for bigger wins down the road.
- McMillan kept the playing rotation at nine with Thad Young and Bojan Bogdanovic sharing most of the double duty and filling in quite well.
- Much like the bench, Myles Turner delivered the type of game the team would love to see on a consistent basis. His presence was felt on defense as he battled Hassan Whiteside much of the night and finished with 12 points, 7 rebounds and 3 blocks. That should be a baseline average for Turner.
- Speaking of consistency, Domas Sabonis continued his incredibly consistent and excellent level of play with 15 points, 12 rebounds in 25 minutes.
- Doug McDermott made one of three shots from behind the arc and a couple of those were contested. It would be great if the Pacers could find McDermott at least five shots from three land per game. Despite appearance, he’s not shooting poorly just not enough. His 1-3 effort last night dropped his 3-point shooting percentage to 41.5 percent for the year.