Pacer Postgame (ATL 120, IND 109)


Wanted to throw out some thoughts after the first Pacers’ game of the year in Atlanta:

1. This is a young team.

The average age of this team is 26.1, which was evident as the Pacers committed 25 turnovers in Atlanta tonight. You have to expect mistakes from a young team, particularly against a team that puts a ton of pressure on the ball like the Hawks do. But if you are going to be a good team, that turnover number needs to be cut in half.

2. We need to defend the paint better.

We struggled mightily in allowing dribble penetration and easy buckets in the lane. One major problem I saw was very slow rotation by the weak side defense on guys driving into the lane, particularly by Roy Hibbert and Troy Murphy. If we are going to have a chance, we MUST keep the ball out of the lane. The Hawks finished tonight with 54 points in the paint, accounting for 45% of their points. That is part of the reason why they shot 53% from the floor. Which leads me to…

3. We have to defend better.

More specifically, we have to get consecutive stops more often. According to my records, we finally got back-to-back stops on Atlanta’s final three posessions of the third quarter in the second half. In order to win, you have to be able to stop your opponent in key spots. The Pacers kept the Hawks from scoring only three times in the entire second half. When you turn the ball over as much as we did tonight, you HAVE to get more consecutive stops than that.

4. We did a nice job attacking the basket.

One thing the Pacers did well tonight was attack the basket. Though they only scored 38 points in the paint, many of those came off of drives to the basket in the half-court set. I was especially impressed with Danny Granger, who was in attack mode for most of the first half, when the Pacers built their largest lead of the game (9).

5. Shot selection will be key.

Dahntay Jones scored a surprising 17 points, but all of them came on lay-ups or free throws. The Pacers ran into some droughts when he started shooting jump shots. He needs to remember what a good shot is (for him). I also liked how Earl Watson played in relief of T.J. Ford. Ford really struggled from the field (1-9 FG), and was forcing his own shots at times. I thought Watson (7-8, 20 points) found his shots within the offense. I hope he continues to get more playing time.


All in all, I take the season opener as a moral victory. We hung with a playoff team from a year ago, in their building, for much of the game (even leading mid-way through the fourth quarter). Danny Granger (31 points) had an excellent night. The bench looked productive. With a little more defense and a few less turnovers, the Pacers (0-1) could definitely be moving in the right direction.


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