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Pacers open season with fun-filled win over Wizards
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver was in the 'House to watch the Pacers roll past the Wiz, 143-120
The Pacers tipped off the 2023-24 NBA season in sizzling fashion, slowing down the Wizards enough to fly by the visitors in a 143-120 win. 82-0 remain in play.
The Pacers started slow, well, not slow but they quickly struggled to slow down the Wizards, giving up 39 first quarter points including 24 points in the paint. Midway through the quarter, Rick Carlisle went to the bench hoping to alter the action with Andrew Nembhard and Buddy Hield.
The pair made a quick impact with Nemhbard forcing a steal that immediately lead to a three-point splash by Hield at the other end. Still, the 39 first quarter brought back bad memories of such games at the Fieldhouse last season.
However, the Pacers were able to adjust and win the next three quarters, scoring in excess of 30 points in all four quarters of the game. And that’s just the start of the crazy numbers from this game.
While the Pacers gave up 68 points in the pain, they also scored 60 points in the paint. The Pacers also shot 43 three-pointers and made 20. If only these numbers were sustainable. Regardless, Bruce Brown made six of his first seven three point shots. Buddy Hield came off the bench to make four of seven from behind the arc.
Rick Carlisle is always looking for improvement in rebounds, turnovers and fouls. Well, two out of three was enough to help as the Pacers won the rebound battle, 51-45 with only 12 turnovers for the game (+2 compared to the Wiz).
Fouls remained a problem which seems to be a natural side effect of teams getting into the lane so often. The Pacers finished with 23 fouls allowing the Wizards to shoot 29 free throws compared to the Pacers 12 FTAs. That deficit was easily overcome with the three-point advantage, but the fouling issue is a trend the Pacers need to at least try to minimize.
Tyrese Haliburton finished with 20 points and 11 assists, returning to the game in the fourth quarter to get his assist number in double digits. Haliburton had just five points at the half, but started looking to score more often in the third quarter which helped push the Pacers lead to a comfortable double-digit difference.
As for the rotation, Carlisle went with nine players until the game was put away. Well, it turned to ten thanks to foul trouble for both Myles Turner and Jalen Smith which put Isaiah Jackson in the mix during the third quarter reserve rotation. IJax was ready to go and the Pacers were +2 with him in the critical third quarter.
The 9-man rotation meant Andrew Nembhard handled the backup point guard duties while TJ McConnell stayed on the bench until closing time in the last five minutes of the game. Nembhard was his normal solid self, hitting elbow jumpers like layups and also logging a double-double with 12 points and 10 assists.
Bennedict Mathurin also continued to look comfortable in his role among the starters. After the early defensive struggles, Benn was among the first to sub out, but when he returned he was much more aggressive and on points. He finished with 18 points and 5 assists, one of eight Pacers to score in double figures.
Plenty more to share about opening nights before the Pacers play the Cavs in Cleveland on Saturday night.
Commissioner Adam Silver makes All-Star announcement
The Pacers welcomed NBA commissioner, Adam Silver to the Fieldhouse for a few All-Star Weekend announcements (see the whole presser here). The League and Pacers All-Star Host Committee have selected Christamore House, a community center that is a fixture on Indy’s near west side, as the location for the NBA’s annual Live, Learn and Play project, which will include a refurbished gymnasium, wellness space, and new STEM lab.
As for the game, Silver announced that the game will return to the East vs. West team format which is a great move and ends the player draft which was getting goofy. Unfortunately, the back to tradition theme will also include returning to a regular four quarter game, so no Elam Ending. Big bummer!
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