The Pacers first win had many highlights but their ability to close out the game while leading throughout the fourth quarter was most impressive, even if it wasn’t flashy.
During their 0-3 start, the Pacers played much of the time from behind, struggling to get back into games and eventually running out of juice. But midway through the third quarter in Brooklyn, T.J. Warren hit one of his patented midrange floaters to put the Pacers up 79-77 and they never trailed again. The game did remain close until a few minutes into the fourth quarter when a two minute stretch pushed the lead to double digits.
From there, Malcolm Brogdon took control and managed the Pacers on offense while also bleeding the clock down the way Peyton Manning used to do with a lead for the Colts. While the defense made things tough on the Nets, once the ball was in Brogdon’s hands he was in no hurry. With Myles Turner out and the Pacers spreading the floor, Brogdon and Domas Sabonis teamed up to torture the Nets. They kept the clock running and put a stress on the Nets defense, even when possessions came up empty.
Getting a lead may not always be easy for the Pacers, but when they do it is in good hands with Brogdon running the show.
Another interesting note from the Pacers strong finish was the impact of Doug McDermott down the stretch. If you look at his box score line, you see McDermott only made two threes for six points and had a plus-1 in the +/- column. But his impact was big in the second half. McBuckets played 32 total minutes in the game, but over 18 of those minutes were in the second half. McDermott only took and missed one shot in all of those second half minutes yet, he was plus-10 for the second half in large part because he was just on the floor.
With Myles Turner out, the Pacers used McDermott to help spread out the Nets’ defense so Brogdon and Sabonis (see above) could go to work. The Pacers didn’t run much of anything for McDermott on offense but the Nets had to account for him while also keeping tabs on Jeremy Lamb and Warren who were both giving BKY buckets much of the night. Even when they went to a zone, the Nets had to keep track of the Pacers perimeter scoring threats and they struggled to do so.
It seems like no two wins (or losses) will be the same for the Pacers this year, especially while they are still sorting out roles in the rotation. But McDermott playing big minutes and having an impact on the win without shooting, is not something I thought we’d see this year.
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