The missing playmakers on both sides was readily apparent in a sloppy, clank-filled first quarter, but then the Pacers put a 20-2 run on the Nets to start the second quarter, fueled by the energy and scoring of two-way point guard Naz Mitrou-Long which seemed to lift the whole team’s effort.
The back court competition seemed to spark Aaron Holiday, as well who went on to have a career night with 24 points and 13 assists. This was the type of effort the Pacers hoped to get out of AHoliday as a backup to Malcolm Brogdon. Not the gaudy numbers, but the ability to attack and be a scoring threat with the second unit.
T.J. McConnell has been that backup point guard because he reliably handles his business on the court. But McConnell doesn’t bring the bag of goodies to the game that AHoliday does, but what he does bring is consistency. The two will likely play more together when McConnell returns from injury, but AHoliday has a chance to seize a bigger role if he can bring they same dynamic playmaking ability more nights than not.
Speaking of injuries, the Pacers’ schedule continues to shield the team from a vicious bout of injuries. Beating the Nets let the Pacers head home on a positive note for four full days off before playing their next four games at home. In all, the Pacers will be home for 11 days before playing at Philadelphia on Nov. 30.
The Pacers maintain the easiest schedule to date and have yet to beat a team with a .500 record or better (they’ve only played two!!!!). During the upcoming homestand against Orlando, Memphis, Utah and Atlanta there will only be one chance to beat a winning team (unless the Magic level their record at 7-7 by beating Toronto on Wednesday).
By Saturday, hopefully the injury report only shines a light on Victor Oladipo. Jeremy Lamb has missed the last seven games with a sprained ankle, so if he isn’t ready by Saturday I’d say he has something more severe than a sprained ankle. T.J. McConnell’s sore groin should be plenty rested and ready to go. Domas Sabonis played through a sore hip on Monday and could surely use a little rest after man-handling the Nets.
Hopefully, Malcolm Brogdon’s sore back is just as sore back, as well which will benefit from the extra time at home (Brogdon didn’t go to Brooklyn). The mixing and matching of lineups all year has made it tough to gauge how well the Pacers can play. A healthy Brogdon and Lamb are needed to see how well that starting lineup can function with Myles Turner and Sabonis. Their time together on the court hasn’t been great, but remains limited in general, not to mention with the full lineup.
The silver lining to the number of players rotating through the injury report, is that Nate McMillan knows he has options through a variety of combinations to try on any given night when the first option isn’t working.
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