Alize Johnson cobbled together a double-double in the absence of Aaron Holiday (sore left hip), Edmond Sumner (sore left foot), Brian Bowen (sore back), and Goga Bitadze (visa approval) on Tuesday against the Atlanta Hawks, but his overall game has continued to want for refinement in certain areas. He still needs to work on getting his inside foot in front of his man in transition in order to transform some of those 8-foot running hook shots into shielded layups, and it certainly wouldn’t hurt to see him be a little more willing to go to his off-hand when attacking in face-up opportunities.
Additionally, after shooting 38 percent from three on 3.8 attempts per game with the Mad Ants last season, Johnson has come up empty thus far in Las Vegas (0-of-6), punctuating what has been an overall brick-heavy outing for the Summer Pacers on long-balls (16-of-81).
Without Bitadze, the team as a whole has suffered from the roster’s lack of a shot-blocking, screening big. Driving into traffic and running out of ideas has been a staple of the squad’s anemic offense, and too many defensive possessions have ended with late scores as a result of poor closeouts or unfavorable mismatches stemming from default switches. Consequently, neither end of the floor has exactly been an ideal test ground for Indiana’s returning players when they’ve been available.
Aaron Holiday, in particular, has fared well in raw scoring output (22 points per game), but his decision-making has been suspect at best in the absence of an experienced roll-man, producing just nine assists against nine turnovers on 35 percent shooting.
On top of having the worse plus-minus among all of the teams participating in Las Vegas (-21.3), only Team Croatia (71.3) and Team China (72.3) have scored fewer points per game than the Pacers (75.3).
Edmond Sumner will miss a third-straight game due to a sore left foot, and Bitadze will remain out while awaiting visa approval. Indiana’s 18th overall selection is also one of only four unsigned first-round draft picks.
As for the Raptors, only three players have scored at a better clip than reigning G League MVP and Defensive Player of the Year Chris Boucher, who has come out firing with averages of 22.7 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks in threes games for Toronto. Meanwhile, Terence Davis, who yesterday agreed to a two-year contract with the Raptors following a breakout 22-point, five-rebound summer league performance with the Nuggets, is expected to be active for his new team tonight.
With only the top-eight teams participating in tournament play, look for the Pacers (0-3) to play one consolation game on either Friday or Saturday before departing from Las Vegas.
From there, Indiana will have to address Alize Johnson’s $1.4 million non-guaranteed contract by July 15.
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