Danny Granger sure was important. A year removed from being the three-seed in the East, the Indiana Pacers (3-5) are struggling without their All-Star forward who will be out the next three months due to Patellar tendonitis in his left knee.
And it’s not like the Pacers are struggling against good teams, either. Their three wins were at Toronto and home against Sacramento and Washington. Plan a parade! And their five losses were against Charlotte, San Antonio, Atlanta, Minnesota and Toronto. Not exactly Murderer’s Row.
After a three-game losing streak, Pacer’s head coach Frank Vogel attempted to fix the situation by taking Sam “Old-man Face” Young out of rotation, and replacing him with Lance Stephenson. This ended the losing streak, but didn’t help the team avoid last night’s 72-74 loss at Toronto. The Raptors scored 5 points in the fourth quarter (five!) and they still won. The Pacers got open shots, they just couldn’t convert, shooting 10-for-38 (26.3 percent) in the second half and 5-for-24 (20.8) in the fourth quarter. For the game, the Pacers shot a gentleman’s 32 percent.
Let’s hope that this “unable to make a basket” trend continues tonight in Milwaukee.
Choose the Form of the Destroyer
When Paul George entered the league in 2010 he was 6’8. After a summer growth spurt, he is now 6’10 and the Pacers main offensive weapon with Granger sidelined. George has played decently this season, playing 39 minutes per game and averaging 12.9/8.5/3.5 on 40% shooting.
His shooting percentages, like almost everyone’s on the Pacers, need to improve. But it’s his limited trips to the free throw line that are hurting the team. One of Granger’s biggest talents was getting to the line (he has been around the 4.7-6.9 FTA range his entire career). George this season is averaging only 1.7 FTA a game. That’s way too low for a player who plays nearly 40mpg and is supposed to be the Pacer’s main offensive weapon.
The Bucks will need to prevent him from getting to the line and force other Pacers to take control of the offense.
Matchup of the Game
Roy Hibbert is another Pacer who just hasn’t been bringing it this year. The 2012 All-Star is shooting 37.8 percent from the field. Yikes. When that’s broken down further, he’s shooting 49 percent in the restricted area, 25 percent (!!) in the paint and 38 percent from mid-range, according to NBA.com. Dalembert will need to keep Hibbert facing the basket and pressure him into taking inefficient jumpshots.
And just for extra Pacer fan misery, Hibbert has a defensive rebounding percentage of 13.2 percent. To put that into perspective, Larry Sanders is grabbing defensive rebounds at a percentage of 31.8. Larry for MVP!
Ekpe Udoh Larry Sanders All-Star Watch
I’m back! And boy oh boy is Larry being an All-Star.
This stud is showing so much promise that it’s almost sickening. Through the first six games, Sanders is rebounding at elite levels, blocking everything that’s near him and shooting 65 percent from the field and 72 percent from the restricted area. He’s still fouling like a hit-man, but, really, who cares. He’s been on the receiving end of many questionable calls and he’s trying insanely hard. Give him a break. Come on. Just do it.
Also, we now know through Sanders’ Twitter that his favorite movie is The Sandlot. Could he possibly get any greater?! Also, also, hopefully this doesn’t happen again tonight. Stay in control, Larry!
For Ian’s sake, Ekpe Udoh did play well on Monday. He brushed off his rebounding funk, grabbing 4 defensive rebounds, which doubled his season total. Onwards and upwards young Udoh.
Aaaaaaaand speaking of All-Stars, the ballot was released yesterday. The Bucks have four players on the ballot (Dalembert, Ilyasova, Ellis, Jennings). VOTE OR DIE.
The Bucks win and prove that the division title is a three-team race: 97 – 91