After spending the better part of three night in four at the Fieldhouse, there was plenty to digest from the Pacers 1-2 start to the season, so here are some random notes from the start of the season along with some links.
- Tyrese Haliburton and Bennedict Mathurin are good. Worth the price of admission good. Thanks to the back-to-back weekend games, we saw the paid attendance or more accurately the actual fans that showed up to the Fieldhoue increase each night. Fortunately, they had plenty to cheer about thanks in large part to the Pacers two budding stars who are doing about all they can at the offensive end to keep the Pacers rolling. For more on the ‘why’ check out CC’s latest look at the dynamic duo.
- The Pacers used 49 different lineups over the three games and no one lineup in all three. Injuries and defense played a part in that as Rick Carlisle took a couple of swings at the starting lineup without Myles Turner, settling in the third game against Detroit with Isaiah Jackson at center which moved Jalen Smith back to power forward where he excelled for much of the win over Detroit.
- The other root cause of the various lineup changes was surely at the defensive end. The Pacers continue struggling overall to slow down other teams, most notably slowing down the ball being dribbled by other teams. Communication often seems to be a primary problem since there have been noticeable missed assignments which have led to two or more players questioning each other. They need to learn to communicate before the play is made against them instead of after. Subtle difference.
- The San Antonio game had the most glaring issues at that end, particularly in the first half. The effort and poor body language made it appear the Pacers would legitimately struggle to win a game all year. Slumped shoulders heading to the bench, a little finger pointing after poor executing won’t help.
- In contrast, the effort and energy the next night against Detroit was much better and obviously a point hammered home by the coaching staff. Frustrated and playing out of position, Jalen Smith had the worst disposition on Friday, but to his credit Smith made the personal attitude changes he needed along with a position change which led to a big night for Stix.
- Goga Bitadze also shook off s frustrating Friday to deliver some emotionally charged help off the bench on Saturday. Consistency in bringing that type of effort and production is how Goga can maintain a role in the rotation which is now large enough that he should be in the mix. Just needs to continue taking advantage of the opportunities.
- Aaron Nesmith did not play in the Spurs game which makes the defensive issues even more apparent since Nesmith has been a guy capable of hounding the ball defensively. He was also part of the primary closing lineup against the Pistons which delivered the win.
- At the 7:45 minute mark of the 4th quarter against Detroit, the Pacers played Haliburton, Mathurin, Nesmith, Terry Taylor (about 2min) then Jalen Smith and IJax until the Pacers were up 11 with one minute to go. At that point, Andrew Nembhard replaced IJax for an extra ball handler. That group of players aren’t all individually great on defense, but they are long and active and can create some chaos for opponents by helping and recovering off the ball even if a guys gets by Mathurin or Haliburton.
- That final group were definitely the aggressors in the matchup, a trait Rick Carlisle complained was lacking after the loss to the Wizards. The young, active personnel should always be in that mode, but it is easier said than done with the lack of experience and familiarity throughout the various playing rotations. So while there will be plenty of growing pains, it was nice to see the potential of what the young core of players can become as they continue to grow together and become more comfortable with their roles, as well as playing together.
These are just a handful of thoughts I took away from the Fieldhouse. The competition ramps up on the road and playing 0-3 Philly with a salty Joel Embiid waiting, doesn’t seem ideal for the defense we’ve seen so far from Philly. But on the plus side, James Harden has to guard somebody,
Check out the links:
As Lakers stumble early, Russell Westbrook trade possibilities linger: Shams’ Inside Pass Notebook - The Athletic
"The Lakers have also held preliminary discussions with the Spurs in recent weeks, sources said, showing interest in three-and-D wing Josh Richardson. The 6-foot-5 Richardson has averaged nearly 13 points to start the season, shooting 47.1 percent on 5.67 three-point attempts per game. So expect the Lakers to continue to keep tabs with the Spurs, Hornets and Pacers as a potential trade partner as the season wears on."