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Pacers finish strong in Philly with another In-Season Tournament win
The Pacers closed out the Sixers for a quality bounce-back win in Philly.
The Pacers had to feel good leaving Philly on Tuesday night with a hard-earned split against the Eastern Conference leading Sixers (pending game with the C’s).
Not only was game two a quasi-playoff game as part of the NBA In-Season Tournament, but the consecutive games on the road in Philly offered a solid feel for Games 1 and 2 of a playoff series. Better yet, were it playoff series, the Pacers earned a split on the road, which in a 7-game series would flip home court advantage to the Blue and Gold. Reps taken, lessons learned, adjustments made with a lot of little things to help this young squad grow into a playoff team.
The Pacers are now 2-0 in their division of the In-Season Tournament, having beaten the top two seeds, so far. If they can beat the Hawks in Atlanta next week, the Pacers will clinch the top spot and look ahead to the Knockout Round.
Turner tough a winning time
We've seen this scene play out before. Myles Turner is slipping into a black hole. Saddled with foul trouble and trying to impact the game late after sitting longer than usual, he emerges in an Embiid-induced haze unable to deliver. His body language starts to look like he's questioning his very NBA existence and what exactly he's trying to do out there on the court.
After picking up his fourth foul, 80 seconds into the third quarter, Turner didn't return to the game until the start of the fourth quarter. The Pacers were clinging to a one-point lead headed to winning time. Turner came out active and getting to his spots, but after a missed free throw and missed layup it felt like eye averting time.
Instead, Turner went the other way, making his final six free throws to finish the quarter with 15 much-needed points while still guarding the rim and dealing with Embiid without fouling out. He even started talking to the array of Philly fans who seemed to have the Pacers' attention all night. At one point, Turner rotated a hair late to swat a Tyrese Maxey floater that was ruled goaltending, but was also an energy play. A Myles is feeling confident play. With three minutes left, Turner hit a three-pointer that pushed the lead back to six points and bailed out a key possession in the game.
Yeah, confidence was not a problem.
From there, Tyrese Haliburton and Bruce Brown closed out the game at the offensive end, but Turner's presence throughout the fourth quarter was felt and the feeling was good. Serious head nod goes to Haliburton who kept pushing positive vibes, along with the ball, to Turner. Hali almost wouldn’t let Turner not rise up in the situation and his teammate responded in kind.
Turner played less than eight minutes in the first three quarters with just two points and four fouls to show for the time. But with a push from Haliburton, Tuner’s mindset stayed ready. When asked after the game, how he was able to turn it on late, Turner took some much needed credit for himself, but also acknowledge Haliburton’s help.
“Maturity, just staying ready,” Turner said about flipping his production in the fourth quarter. “Tyrese kept saying, ‘big second half, big second half. we’re gonna need you.’ When you have guys that believe in you like that, it makes it easy. From a personal standpoint, just trying to manage your emotions, frustrations.”
Turner has spent offseason time working on himself and not just his game. Meditating, breathing exercises…managing his emotions.
“If that was me a couple of years ago, I probably would’ve taken myself out of the game,” Turner admitted. “But there’s four quarters of basketball.”
Tyrese Haliburton finished the win with 33 points, 15 assists, 7 rebounds, 7 assists and 0 (with a Z!) turnovers.
From my media spot at the Fieldhouse during Isaiah Jackson’s first preseason game, the young big’s speed stood out. Whenever the Pacers turned from defense to offense, IJax would sprint ahead of his defender. For all of his length, the kid is fast.
Oh, and he can run and chew gum at the same time, along with catching passes and remaining balanced enough to finish. This makes him a great threat in pick n’ roll situations because he has a wide catch and finish radius.
But sprinting ahead of the defense has always had me longing for someone to pass him the ball. The window closes quick in transition, but knowing he will be a step or two ahead of the defense, you can let it go quickly and allow IJax to make a play.
Finally, my dream scenario played out on Tuesday night as Haliburton unleashed a full-court pass over the top of the defense to an open IJax at the rim.
Pure bliss. Others in my house were alarmed by my reaction and befuddled by the explanation of my reaction. I don’t care. It was a thing of beauty.
Buddy shooting slump
The Pacers are 3-1 in their last four games, including impressive wins over Milwaukee and Philly. All this while their reserve sniper, Buddy Hield has been struggling to drill 3-balls at his usual clip, which often serves to kill the will of the Pacers’ opponent.
While his season average is still over 37%, Buddy is working (well, shooting) through a slump after making just 8 of his last 34 (23.5%) trey tries. Amazingly, Buddy’s struggles haven’t hampered the Pacers league-leading offense.
Also, there should be no cause for concern or search for answers. Buddy has had plenty of open looks whether playing with or without Tyrese. His hair trigger release doesn’t need much room, so really the issue is finding that patented shooting groove once again, which will continue to bolster the offense for those reserve rotations that include No. 7.
A few days off at home should help, as well. Hield is constantly in the gym working, so you can imagine the diligent approach he will be taking with four off days at the Fieldhouse/ASV Center before the Pacers play Orlando on Sunday evening.
Daniel Theis waived. Who fills spot?
The Pacers announced on Wednesday that they finally bought out and waived (or waived and bough out) center Daniel Theis.
Theis arrived with Aaron Nesmith in the Malcom Brogdon trade and it was always assumed there was mutual interest in flipping him elsewhere. The German big man was rarely active last season, but did play well when occasionally playing. This year, he remained buried on the big man depth chart behind Jalen Smith and Isaiah Jackson, a sure indication that the Pacers expected to move Theis at some point.
The Clippers are expected to sign Theis and depending on the contract particulars, should give the Pacers some salary cap relief. It also opens up a spot on the roster, most likely for a two-way player like Kendall Brown or Oscar Tshiebwe. The Big O has seemingly earned a shot at the spot with his 20+ rebound games for the Mad Ants. Plus, Jalen Smith took a brutal head shot in the last game, so an insurance big would work well.
Smith flew home with the team and with so many days off, the hope is he will be good to go.
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