2014-2015 NBA Season Analysis- Indiana Pacers
This is bound to be a tough season for the Indiana Pacers. The loss of Lance Stephenson (signed with the Charlotte Hornets) and the long-term injury of their best player in Paul George will make it real hard for them to keep up with the best teams in the Eastern Conference, not to mention the strange second part of the season they had last year. However, a couple of good acquisitions in guys like Rodney Stuckey or C.J. Miles and some guys stepping up (mainly Scola, who’s certainly a better player than the one he’s proven to be in Indiana), can help them stay as a good basketball team.
Coach: Frank Vogel
PG: George Hill; Donald Sloan; C.J. Watson; A.J. Price
SG: C.J. Miles; Rodney Stuckey
SF: Paul George; Solomon Hill; Damjan Rudez (Rookie)
PF: David West; Luis Scola; Chris Copeland; Lavoy Allen; Shayne Whittington (Rookie)
C: Roy Hibbert; Ian Mahinmi
Let’s first analyze the Pacers’ options offensively:
Well, the scenario’s just changed entirely because that primary ball handler creating plays for others in Lance Stephenson’s no longer in their roster and the go-to guy offensively is gonna be out for quite a while.
First of all, I’d like to see Roy Hibbert get more touches in the paint, because the Pacers need them to be consistent and get the best out of him night in and night out. Let’s not forget he’s one of the best centers in the entire Association when he’s at his best. I also believe pick and roll plays with the power forwards can be a pretty useful weapon for them. They all (West, Scola and Lavoy Allen) can stop, pop and knock down shots from 15-20 feet, what makes defenders concerned about their shooting ability. This can open up plenty of options for them: defenders may tend to help a little bit too much so an extra pass can end up in a wide open shot from the perimeter (they’ve got some great shooters in C.J. Miles, C.J. Watson, Copeland, or even A.J. Price and the Croatian rookie Damjan Rudez); the guard playing the pick and roll can also benefit from the defenders’ concern about the power forwards’ shooting ability getting some open shots or driving lanes to the basket; finally, defenders will eventually try to close out on them, and both West and Scola can roll to the basket, put the ball on the deck and either finish at the rim with lay-ups and little floaters or find the open man (and as mentioned before they’ve got some great outside shooters).
Also, I consider important that Rodney Stuckey get going early in the season because he can be an extra threat off the bench. He’s a guy who can put the ball on the deck and create plays for others, allowing the point guards to play off the ball and get some open shots. He’s also one of those fearless guards who get to the rim easily and score many points in the paint, making the opposing big men have to step up on him, so improving his passing ability and court awareness can create plenty of easy buckets for the Pacers’ big men.
Finally, I believe they will also design some plays with multiple screens for shooters like Miles or Copeland, who have an amazingly quick release that can give them points from downtown or open passing lines when defenders are too concerned about their shooting skills.
Let’s now switch onto the defensive end of the court:
I believe things won’t change that much on the defensive end of the court, although they’ll be missing an elite defender in Paul George. This end of the court has been the key to their success, and it should stay that way. Team defence, multiple helps, rim protection and, ultimately, helping teammates out on the court will be the key to their competitiveness again. This approach has to be emphasized by coach Vogel, because with Paul George’s absence, I believe George Hill is their only great individual defender in the perimeter.
They have, however, the great weapon of rim protection, so perimeter defenders should try to close out on the opposing players, make them put the ball on the deck and drive to the basket (in other words, make them earn their buckets). This is a way of avoiding wide open shots from the outside, but they should also stay committed and don’t forget that you can’t always rely on your big men’s rim protection.
Also, I do think their big men can defend 1-on-1 in the paint, so guards should only help and double team when necessary.
To sum up, team defence, commitment, rim protection, team rebounding and a slow pace will be again key to their overall success in this NBA Season.
Likely Starting Line-up
G. Hill – Miles – George (S.Hill during his absence) – West – Hibbert
For some of the reasons mentioned above, I don’t think the Pacers can fight for the top spots in the Eastern Conference this year, but they’re still a competitive team and will hang on and advance to the post-season. Thus, my prediction is the Indiana Pacers will clinch #7 spot in the East.
Here are some of the top plays from the Indiana Pacers' players in the last seasons: