Pacers finish homestand against Blazers, continue to work on defense
After a solid defensive close in their win over the Pistons, the Blazers provide another favorable foe to find what groups might work on that end of the floor.
The Pacers finish their three-game homestand on Monday night when the Portland Trail Blazers make their annual visit to the Fieldhouse. The home team continues to look for a solid 48 minute run that pleases both the offensive and defensive minded observer.
The Pacers finished very strong in their 136-113 win over the Pistons on Friday night, to complete Group A play with a perfect 4-0 record. After giving up 70 points in the second and third quarters combined, the Pacers put the clamps on the young Pistons, allowing just 17 fourth quarter points.
The defense really struggled without Andrew Nembhard in the prior games, but his return sparked a renewed effort to slow down the Pistons as he teamed up with Bruce Brown to ultimately slow down Cade Cunningham who had his way on offense for much of the game. While giving up size to Cunningham, both Nembhard and Brown were solid at winning time guarding on the ball and while Cunningham’s size still allowed him to get to the paint, he had to shoot over the Pacers guards and was not dictating when and where he took his shots.
The duo played a long second-half stretch with Bennedict Mathurin who seems to be at his best when playing alongside Nembhard and Brown. That point-of-attack defense isn’t Mathurin’s strength, so when he’s able to play more of a free safety role next to Brown and Nembhard, his effort complements the other two defenders nicely.
With the lengthy lineup Detroit rolls out, Rick Carlisle also turned to Isaiah Jackson and Jalen Smith when Myles Turner found early foul trouble. The double-big lineup worked so well in the first half, they earned some more run together in the second half. Eventually, Myles Turner finished the fourth playing some of his best ball all season. No doubt, the bigs held their own against the lengthy and athletic young Pistons.
While the IJax/Stix pairing may no be ideal, I’d say the duo should always be an option to try when battling long teams like Orlando, Boston or Toronto. Aaron Nesmith is expected to return against the Blazers and his absence along with the Pistons’ size forced the move. Even with Nesmith back in the mix, consider the reserve big pairing another viable option in the defensive bag to try, if needed. The Pacers can’t have too many options at this point.
Finding any defensive success is positive, even if the Pistons offense is among the worst in the league. Now the Pacers play the Blazers who actually have the worst offense in the league. Seems like a great time to keep pushing for answers on the end of the floor. Carlisle considers it an effort issue, as opposed to a scheme issue, so we’ll see if he continues to reward (and punish) those in the back half of the playing rotation based on their defensive results.
Where: Gainbridge Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN
When: Monday, Nov. 27, 2023, 7:00 p.m. ET
TV: Bally Sports
Radio: 93.5/107.5 The Fan
Pacers: Tyrese Haliburton, Bruce Brown, Buddy Hield, Obi Toppin, Myles Turner
Trail Blazers: Malcolm Brogdon, Shaedon Sharpe, Toumani Camara, Jerami Grant, Deandre Ayton
Pacers: Aaron Nesmith (wrist) - questionable
Blazers: Rayan Rupert (G League) - out, Anfernee Simons (thumb) - out, Ish Wainright (knee) - out, Robert Williams III (knee) - out
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