The Pacers delivered their best win of the season to date on Wednesday when they beat the Bucks. One valid “knock” against the Pacers is that they have made hay against a weak schedule, beating teams they should while losing to the better teams. on the schedule. Before beating the Bucks, the Pacers best wins were over Memphis and Boston.
However, the Celtics were not playing as well as they are now when Victor Oladipo rose up and drilled a three in the waning seconds to help the Pacers swipe a one-point win. Of course, the Pacers are also playing better right now, as well. The impressive season-opening win over the Grizzlies was diminished at the time based on low preseason expectations for the Grizz, but a look at their 16-11 record now reveals that was an impressive 28-point beat down by the Pacers.
The Pacers are now 18-10, a win rate that would make them a 52-win team if they could maintain the same pace. While they have done this well under the national NBA radar, that could change if they can beat the Sixers on Friday night in a game televised on ESPN.
More thoughts after the win over the Bucks:
- Thaddeus Young kept things simple to keep Giannis Antetokounmpo under wraps in the Pacers. The dynamic and loooonnnng all-star for the Bucks is a problem when he gets moving to the rim, ready for lift off from the free throw line and in. Young remained grounded , literally in his approach to guarding Giannis, just staying in front of him and not allowing the Greek Freak build up a head of steam toward the rim. Plus, whenever it looked like Giannis was trying to get a running start, Young’s Pacers teammates were ready to hedge and help as needed which slowed the big man down further. That lead to more kickouts which the Bucks had trouble converting into threes consistently.
CC captured a good example of the team focus on the anyone but Giannis strategy spearheaded by Thad.
The Bucks shot 6-of-24 on wide open 3s (6+ feet of space) last night. That gave the Pacers carte blanche to be super aggressive crowding Giannis.— Caitlin Cooper (@C2_Cooper) December 13, 2018
Take a look at this possession: pic.twitter.com/CFum0lmG1y
- Young also had 25 points on 14 shots and following the game revealed why he is so valuable in the locker room and on the court. Asked by Mark Montieth if his effort may have been his best game as a Pacer, Young quickly replied, “I really don’t care. Like I’ve said, I’ve never been one to care about stats or anything like that. If I score two points and we got the win, I’m happy. Am I overly excited now? No. We have another game coming up.”
- Energy and effort were cited as the difference between the Pacers defensive success against the Bucks on Wednesday compared to the second game of the season when the Bucks crushed the Pacers in Milwaukee. Plus, the Pacers are more comfortable with the team defensive approach Dan Burke plans and in turn, Burke is also more comfortable, allowing input and adjustments during games at the suggestion of players like Young who apply their perspective from the floor. “He (Burke) listens to me a lot,” Young said. “I might change some stuff and say, ‘No, we need to do this’ and he goes with it during the game. He gives me the freedom to change some things.”
- Victor Oladipo had an ideal return to action, feeling good enough to keep running when the game was decided, to log 29 minutes of valuable court time without any issues. After the game, VO admitted he probably could have played in the prior game a couple of days earlier but they held off. While Vic filled various columns on the stat sheet, his highlight moment was landing safely and running back on defense after swooping to the hoop to finish an off balance layup with a sweet finger roll.
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