The Indiana Pacers entered this shortened 2011-12 season expected to make noise in the Eastern Conference — very much unlike the Pacers teams of the last four years.
Apparently aware of such expectations, Indiana opened its slate with a bang.
The Pacers’ three top big men, center Roy Hibbert, forward Tyler Hansbrough and the newly signed forward David West, each recorded a double-double Monday in Indiana’s 91-79 dismantling of the Detroit Pistons at Bankers Life (formerly Conseco) Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The Pacers (1-0) led the entire game.
Granted, the Pistons (0-1) project as one of the NBA’s lesser teams this season, but it was a fine start for a Pacers squad that looks to build on last year’s breakthrough playoff appearance with an even higher standing in the East.
The game wasn’t too dramatic; as mentioned earlier, the Pacers never trailed and led by more than 20 points for much of the contest. I’ll run through some things I liked about the squad and some things that need improvement going forward.
What I liked…
- The post play. As previously mentioned, three Pacers finished with double-doubles (Hibbert with 16 points and 14 rebounds, Hansbrough with 15 points and 13 rebounds, West with 11 points and 12 rebounds), but the larger story that tells is how dominant Indiana was off the boards. In all, the Pacers pulled down 53 rebounds to the Pistons’ 40, with 18 Indiana boards coming off the offensive glass to just nine such grabs by Detroit. The Pacers always were at or near the bottom of the NBA in rebounding under former coach Jim O’Brien and his fast-paced, shooting-heavy style of play. New coach Frank Vogel definitely has placed a greater emphasis on aggressive play in the paint and rebounding (the newfound frontcourt depth doesn’t hurt either).
- Ball movement. The Pacers passed well. The team’s field-goal percentage (36.8 percent) doesn’t reflect how many good looks Indiana got. The team worked for its shots — minus the customary few jack-ups by forward Danny Granger (although he did a fine job deferring) — and finished with 20 assists. West in particular had some nice dishes inside, and guards George Hill and Lance Stephenson showed flashes of being efficient distributors off the bench.
What needs work…
- Field-goal efficiency. That 36.8 percentage was rough, though it did allow the team to showcase its strength rebounding the basketball. The team finished a meager 32-of-87 from the field. West looked rather rusty in reaching 11 points to achieve his double-double; he went 3-of-12 from the field and scored five of those points at the free-throw line. Granger continued his habit of forcing bad shots and suffered a 6-of-18 night because of it. No Pacer who took shots converted on 50 percent of his attempts. The rustiness resulting from the lockout and the condensed preseason might be answers to this problem; the offensive talent on Indiana’s roster is too great to produce such a lousy statistic very often.
Powered by Sidelines Follow paulmbanks