Nate McMillan had no problem inserting Wesley Matthews into the Pacers starting lineup two days after joining the Pacers. Part of the deal which lured Matthews to Indy was the opportunity to start, so McMillan held up the team’s end of the bargain even if Matthews didn’t know all of the offensive sets the team runs.
Matthews acclimated quickly to his teammates on the court with his veteran savvy and effort on the defensive end. But his nervous energy in his first game at the Fieldhouse didn’t help his shooting touch which was off much of the night.
But not only did McMillan let Matthews start the game, he also turned to him to close things out despite the shooting guard’s 0-8 night from the floor heading into winning time.
With Charlotte trying to make a late push inside of five minutes, Matthews found the range and made two deep three-pointers to keep the Pacers in control of the game before they locked up the W. Not unlike Victor Oladipo who we have seen shake off rough offensive nights to drill big buckets down the stretch.
”It’s extremely humbling to be able to be in that situation and I feel blessed to be able to be in the situation that I’m in now with this staff, this organization, this team,” Matthews said about helping close out the win. “To be struggling the way that I was on the offensive end but still be counted on to close the game, it just felt good to deliver.”
It was a little surprising that McMillan didn’t turn to Tyreke Evans or Cory Joseph to close out the game with the win in the balance. But as the coach explained after the game, Tyreke needed a break and then Matthews made his return unnecessary by making plays.
”Certainly, going down the stretch if it would’ve gotten close, I probably would’ve gone offense/defense,” McMillan said about his weighing his options at the end of the game.
”Wesley is going to be able to hold his own defensively, but offensively because he didn’t know all of our sets and the sets that we run down the stretch, I was thinking about that. He (Wesley) did a good job of playing off of the guys and reading where to go and where to space and play. He’s a veteran, so he’s been around, understands time/score situation and where to be. But I did think about who we want to finish with, whether it was Tyreke or Corey at that guard possession.”
As he normally does, McMillan lets the flow of the game guide his decision making and everything worked out well. In fact, having Matthews involved late to help deliver big shots to close out the win gives a positive boost to the process of the team working incorporating a new, key cog in the middle of the season.
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