The Indiana Pacers got a bounceback win, preseason style, by topping the Cleveland Cavaliers on the road. The Pacers had a much better air about them compared to their opener despite major turnover issues, but much better shooting and another solid rebounding outing helped them keep Cleveland in the rearview for much of the game.
The Pacers put the game away for good in the third quarter, outscoring the Cavs 23-16. It was the first time the starters played in the second half, and they were able to put their stamp on the game in that period. The initial starting lineup did see a slight change, with Chris Duarte replacing Jeremy Lamb. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the only lineup change the starting lineup had, as Torrey Craig started in the third in place of Justin Holiday, who left the game with a left ankle injury late in the second quarter.
Though it’s unlikely Holiday would have returned to the game regardless of the severity, he did need help back to the locker room and Rick Carlisle spoke afterwards, saying he’ll “miss some time,” according to Tony East.
“We hope he won’t be out long, but he will miss some time,” Carlisle says of Justin Holiday postgame.— Tony East (@TEastNBA) October 9, 2021
With Indiana’s wing depth already depleted without Caris LeVert and T.J. Warren for unspecified amounts of time, it’s going to be interesting seeing how Carlisle manages the rotations for these next two preseason games in hopes of masking his absence the best they can.
Craig may be that replacement as he was tonight in the third. He scored five in 19 minutes, finishing with three rebounds, a steal, and a block. Outside of some defensive and hustle highlights, including a nice trailing contest on a Cleveland miss, he was just kind of there, which may serve the Pacers well compared to someone leaning much more in the negative.
Though the Pacers continue to lose scoring, they were able to make up for it tonight thanks to a bonkers shooting night from Malcolm Brogdon, who at one point made nine straight shots en route to 27 points on 12-14 shooting. Brogdon hit anything and everything, working the shots at the rim and the floater, while stepping up for a pair of threes.
Indiana struggled as a whole from three point range tonight, going just 12-39, but they were led by their starters, including Holiday, to hit eight of the team’s 12. Domantas Sabonis hit two of three himself, both solid shots, finishing with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Sabonis’s play on the offensive end may not have been a surprise, but his defensive effort was, challenging a number of shots at the rim, helping Indiana to a tidy 44-40 win in points in the paint.
Myles Turner also hit two of his three point attempts, finishing with 11 & 9. The Pacers as a whole were dominate on the glass, outrebounding the Cavaliers 50-30, including 13-6 on the offensive glass, despite shooting over 50%. The Cavs, meanwhile, were held to 42% shooting, getting a bulk of their own offensive success from three point range, going 14-34.
The Pacers did a ton of things right tonight, but did struggle in keeping Cleveland from hitting their threes, while also having a wild time holding onto the ball. The Pacers had 22 turnovers, 11 of those coming from Sabonis and Turner. Offensive fouls and lackadaisical ball control made up a bulk of them as Cleveland’s defensive was extremely disruptive throughout the night.
The good news for the Pacers as that their own ills didn’t carry over to the scoreboard. The Pacers still outscored Cleveland 23-19 in points off turnovers, forcing 20 off of the Cavs, and held a strong 12-2 advantage in fast break points. That ultimately afforded Indiana enough of a margin for error to pull away from Cleveland in the third.
Duarte provided a nice boost in the starting lineup, giving Indiana a bit more defensive balance in place of Lamb. Though the Cavs hit their threes, the Pacers were really in control of things in part because of their better all-around defensive effort tonight. Offensively, Duarte scored 11 on 5-11 shooting, hitting just one of his four threes. He did have two assists, second most among the starters in an unusually low seven assist outing for the five starters.
The Pacers did have 25 as a team though, led by T.J. McConnell and Brad Wanamaker, combining for 12. Wanamaker made his debut with the Pacers after signing following Tuesday’s Edmond Sumner trade. McConnell was a bit out of control early, rifling his passes in a number of directions, both affected by Cleveland’s activity and the lack of chemistry with guys like Craig. Wanamaker did look steady in his minutes, providing what the Pacers are looking for from him: third string depth.
The lineup was effectively nine deep in the first half, with Lamb and Isaiah Jackson receiving the bulk of the backup minutes alongside McConnell and Craig. Lamb scored nine, flashing some of scoring abilities and Jackson continues to impress, pulling in four boards and blocking three shots. Both he and Duarte were impressive on the glass especially, each getting a pair of offensive rebounds.
Heading into the fourth, the starters were finished, providing solid minutes from Duane Washington Jr. and Kelan Martin, both going 3-4 for six and seven points respectively. Oshae Brissett struggled shooting the ball, scoring two on 1-6 shooting (0-4) from three, but had a steal and a block, while Goga Bitadze did much of the same offensively, scoring four on 1-5 from three while committing five fouls in 12 minutes. He had two blocks and a steal.
Beyond Holiday’s injury, tonight’s outing was mostly a positive one however, and should provide a nice foundation heading into the next two preseason games, starting next Wednesday October 13 against the Memphis Grizzlies at home.