Visiting with Oladipo just what the doctor ordered for the Pacers

After Victor Oladipo suffered his season-ending knee injury, the Indiana Pacers looked doomed to a downward spiral as they immediately lost their next four games.

They were in the middle of a 4-game road trip and had lost to their third non-playoff opponent in just six days, but then the schedule gave the Pacers a blessing. They would have an off day in Miami where Oladipo was staying after having surgery on his ruptured quad tendon.

Typically, the patient is the one who needs the visitors to uplift them after a major operation like Oladipo’s but for the Pacers visiting with their All Star was just what they needed.

“It was good to see him, physically,” Myles Turner told the Indy Star. “He was in good spirits. I didn’t expect anything less.”

Doug McDermott agreed and told the Star, “He’s always got energy. He’s always upbeat. He gave us words to hold on to. Vic is still our vocal leader even when he’s not in the locker room. We still talk to him. He texts us. It was good just to hear his voice and be around him.” Continue reading Visiting with Oladipo just what the doctor ordered for the Pacers

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Edmond Sumner gets a new contract from Pacers

The Indiana Pacers have added Edmond Sumner to their NBA roster with a 2-year deal with a team option on the second year according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

“Stuck with it through the ups and the downs. And left it up to God. It’s a blessing man. Journey has been crazy but it’s not over,” Sumner wrote on Instagram.

Sumner was previously on a 2-way contract which limits the amount of time that he can spend with the Pacers to 45 days. His 45 days were likely up and the Pacers signed him to the 2-year deal in lieu of converting the contract for just the rest of this season.

Sumner has shown flashes of potential throughout the season, highlighted by his 17-point game against the Lakers earlier this week. He was sensational for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, averaging 23.9 points per game on 50% shooting overall and 40% from 3-point range. And he plays well on the other end too.

The contract gives the Pacers flexibility with their prospect. They can decline the team option this season but then offer him a qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent or if they exercise his team option, he’ll be a restricted free agent the next season. If the Pacers want to keep him around, it should be easy to do so for the foreseeable future.

This puts the team at 15 guaranteed contracts after the addition of Wes Matthews which means the Pacers will likely not be adding anyone else to the team during the season.

Reports: Pacers to sign Wesley Matthews

The Indiana Pacers will sign Wesley Matthews after he agreed to a buyout from the New York Knicks according to multiple media reports.

Continue reading Reports: Pacers to sign Wesley Matthews

Trade deadline: Pacers acquire second-round pick in trade with Rockets

The Indiana Pacers did the Houston Rockets a favor by taking on Nik Stauskas and Wade Baldwin in a trade. For their troubles, the Pacers will get a second-round pick from the Rockets in the deadline deal reported by ESPN.

The Pacers will waive both of these players, having no intention of keeping them on the roster. The Rockets motivation is getting below the luxury-tax threshold in the trade.

To make the trade legal, the Pacers do have to send something to the Rockets but it will likely just be a top-55 protected second-round pick that will never actually convey to Houston. Continue reading Trade deadline: Pacers acquire second-round pick in trade with Rockets

Rumors: Pacers made an offer for Mike Conley

The trade deadline is quickly approaching and the Indiana Pacers are showing up in Mike Conley rumors.

Sam Amick and Tony Jones of The Athletic both reported that the Pacers have been in contact with the Memphis Grizzlies about Conley.

Jones reported that Pacers offered one young player and one veteran but the Memphis counter off was far too high. It seems the trade demands for Memphis make this deal unlikely to happen. Continue reading Rumors: Pacers made an offer for Mike Conley

Pacers need to find more opportunities for Myles Turner

Myles Turner has shown some things on the offensive end of the floor over these last two games that he hasn’t in the first three years of his career. The Indiana Pacers just lost their superstar and they need someone to step up.

Turner looks like he can help fill some of that Oladipo-sized void on offense. Now he just needs the ball with some consistency.

In the first half against the Grizzlies, Turner only had three shot attempts. After playing well in the third quarter with 7 points on 3-of-5 shooting and doing his DPOY-candidate thing on the defensive end, he didn’t come back into the game until four minutes were left in the fourth quarter and didn’t attempt another shot until less than one minute was left. This kind of thing just shouldn’t happen as often as it does with a player like Turner.

The lack of consistency in touches for Turner has long been an issue for the Pacers. While his stats may say that his development has been stagnant during his career, it feels more true that it’s his role that hasn’t evolved along with him. Especially when you see him make some of the moves he’s made recently.

Turner waves off Darren Collison and Bojan Bogdanovic to take that last possession ISO of the half and makes a gorgeous hesitation move to blow by the defender and get the dunk. How many centers are making that move? Earlier in the half, he beat Kevin Durant in a one-on-one situation with a pump fake and nailed the shot. You have to find more ways to get a guy like this frequent touches with chances to score.

With no Oladipo, there’s no reason for him to not be involved more often than he currently is. His usage percentage has dropped from 22% in December to 16% in January before the game against the Warriors. He’s taking three less shot attempts per game than he did in the previous month. That trend can’t continue.

Turner, to his credit, is starting to take things into his own hands at times. He’s been aggressive with driving the ball from the perimeter way more in the last two games than he ever has been, especially when it’s been awhile since he’s taken a shot. This was his first shot attempt since four minutes were left in the first quarter against Memphis.

Maybe this is what he needed to do all along, but it’s hard to put the lack of purposeful involvement on Turner, when he was once told he needed to “distribute more” after having the best month of his young career in January 2017 when he averaged 17.4 points and 8.3 rebounds per game.

The purpose of that from Indiana Pacers head coach Nate McMillan at the time was to encourage Turner to make the extra pass, instead of shooting it at every opportunity. While Turner has made many strides as a passer since then, it feels like the pendulum never swung back to Turner being a centerpiece for the Pacers offense. All of these passes in last two games are plays that he likely doesn’t make during his rookie season.

Two of these passes come after he starts to try and create for himself. Giving him the freedom to create more often may allow him to be a better playmaker for others at times as well.

Turner’s starting to make moves off the dribble that are insane for a big man. The amount of space this crossover creates should have McMillan drooling over his young stud. His defender almost falls over on this play!

Ben Pfeifer of 8 points, 9 seconds has making Myles Turner a focal point of the offense as one of his three keys to figuring out the offense without Oladipo.

Let. Myles. Do. More.

It’s always felt like he has a shorter leash than others when it comes to shot selection though this seems to be getting better.

The Pacers are starting to embrace his 3-point shot more and more of late which is good to see. Turner took seven from distance against the Grizzlies and finished by making his last three attempts after missing his first four. The fact that he kept shooting them despite the slow start is huge.

After starting the year off slowly as a 3-point shooter making just seven of his first 31 attempts, he’s made 30 of 63 long-range shots since December (47.6%).

Turner was one of few bright spots in the blowout loss to the Warriors. He was one of only a few players that looked like they belonged on the floor competing against the defending champs. The Pacers have to find more ways to get him opportunities on the offensive end.

Victor Oladipo suffers knee injury, leaves on stretcher

Indiana Pacers All-Star Victor Oladipo suffered a devastating knee injury and left on a stretcher during the second quarter in Wednesday night’s game against the Toronto Raptors.

Oladipo was hustling back on defense when suddenly his knee seemed to give out as he was getting close to challenging the play. You can hear Oladipo scream in pain when the play happens.

Pacers trainer quickly covered Oladipo’s knee with a towel after a quick look and called for a stretcher.

The Pacers came out in this game with a mission to show they can compete with the top teams in the East especially after struggling in their first two games against the Raptors. They had played well and with some of their best defense of the season to start but now their focus switches to how long their superstar Oladipo will be out.

The Indiana Pacers have announced that it is a serious right knee injury and that Oladipo will have an MRI tomorrow. No other updates will come tonight from the team officially. Prayers up to the heart and soul of the Pacers.

ESPN reports that Pacers fear a season-ending injury that will require surgery.

Darren Collison is quietly returning to form

The Indiana Pacers dominated the Detroit Pistons in every way imaginable last night as they won by 37 points. One of the many highlights of the night was Darren Collison’s perfect shooting performance as he made all seven of his shot attempts for 19 points.

These shot attempts weren’t wide open attempts. Collison made some impressive shots while also dishing out seven assists with only one turnover.

The fact that he only took his first shot with four minutes left makes his perfect shooting night even more impressive especially with a taller player directly in front of him and the shot clock winding down.

After his first dunk of the season that made the entire bench lose its collective mind and following it up with a step-back 3-pointer, Myles Turner decided to capture the Collison moment in all its glory by pretending to take a picture with his hands. Continue reading Darren Collison is quietly returning to form

A Brief Pacers History: The Curse of December 18th

The Indiana Pacers played what may end up being their worst game of the season against the Cleveland Cavaliers last night.

The game was marred by a lack of energy throughout and crucial miscues in the final minute including three consecutive missed free throws by Victor Oladipo and a blatant foul that went uncalled as Larry Nance Jr. tossed Oladipo to the ground before tipping in the game winner at the buzzer as the Pacers lost 92-91. Just like that the hottest team in the league lost to one destined for the lottery.

Every good team has a game or two like this during the course of the season, but what if I told you this one may have been predetermined by cosmic forces beyond their control?

This isn’t the first time a frustrating, painful loss occurred recently on December 18th for Indiana. It’s starting to look like they’re cursed on this seemingly random day in the final month of the calendar year.

Reddit user ArchBishopBanana first called attention to the date by pointing out that the Pacers are just 1-5 on the 18th of December in the last 10 years. And there are some of those worst, most painful regular-season losses of the last decade among the five that have happened on that date.

Just last season, December 18th was a night that everyone would love to forget when Bojan Bogdanovic inexplicably threw away the game against the Boston Celtics as the Pacers lost 112-111.

Which of the following sounds more likely? A career 85.8% free-throw shooter refusing to take the foul with his team ahead in the final seconds and instead throw up a hot-air balloon of a pass near the half-court line or the Pacers are simply dealing with some dark magic on this otherwise inconsequential day in their history?

I’d ask if anyone was denied entrance to Banker’s Life Fieldhouse with a goat or some other barnyard animal on December 18th in the past, but the struggles on this date have been on the road as well.

In 2013 during the peak of the Pacers and Heat rivalry, Indiana lost a close game in Miami after leading by 15 points midway through the third quarter as the Heat went on a 10-0 run late. This one featured another memorable missed call as Paul George went up for a potential tying 3-pointer with LeBron James’s hand on his hip with a subtle push. He was visibly upset by the no call after his shot was way off and the buzzer sounded. The Pacers lost 97-94.

With these three excruciating losses all happening on the same day in recent seasons, it’s safe to say no Pacers fan would mind if they never played on 12/18 ever again.

Pacers Myles Turner gives the Philly crowd the finger

After picking up his third foul during the second quarter while guarding Joel Embiid, Myles Turner gave the middle finger to the Philadelphia crowd.

Ponytail Myles has no chill. He’ll be getting a fine for that one tomorrow morning.

Hopefully the Indiana Pacers can find a way to make the Sixers be the ones who are getting frustrated as Embiid has forced both Turner and Sabonis into foul trouble while dominating with 28 points and 14 rebounds in the first half alone.

Update: Pacers dominated the second half (64-42) to beat the Sixers and Myles Turner apologizes on Twitter after the game

Pacers proving to have Oladipo’s back as he returns

In Victor Oladipo’s absence, many of the Indiana Pacers stepped up in a combined effort to fill the void of their superstar and did so as well as anyone could have hoped. Now, those same players are allowing Oladipo to ease back into playing like his old self as he returns to action from his injury.

“I can’t get it all back in one possession. I haven’t played in three weeks,” said Oladipo after last night’s statement win against the Bucks. “You try to come out here and do too much, you kind of hurt your team a little bit and you hurt yourself. … My team has been playing well. Like I said, I learned a lot sitting out and watching them. I trust my teammates and I trust they’ll make the right play.”

The Pacers performed admirably without Oladipo as they went 8-4 including his quick exit against the Hawks. You can go through the entire rotation and find instances of each player stepping up their game but perhaps none more than Bojan Bogdanovic and Myles Turner.

You have to wonder if Oladipo would have tried to come back much sooner if the team wasn’t playing well. The team’s depth came through.

Bogdanovic averaged 19.6 points during the 12-game stretch and leads the league in 3-point percentage on the season, becoming the Pacers go-to scoring threat. Turner was dominant on the defensive end, playing the best on that end of the floor in his career, while also becoming more consistently involved on the offensive end averaging 13.4 points, 9.1 rebounds and 3.3 blocks in that same timeframe. Continue reading Pacers proving to have Oladipo’s back as he returns

Aaron Holiday back to waiting for his turn as Oladipo returns

Aaron Holiday performed admirably for a rookie getting his first real minutes for the Indiana Pacers, but now that Victor Oladipo has returned to the starting lineup Holiday goes back to waiting for his turn.

Pacers head coach Nate McMillan said he spoke with Holiday about the trickle down effect that Oladipo’s return to the starting lineup will have on his minutes.

“He did his job, now he goes back to his role,” McMillan said. “Victor’s back and we go back to our rotation.”

Even with Oladipo on a minutes restriction, Holiday played zero minutes in the win against the Milwaukee Bucks last night. Continue reading Aaron Holiday back to waiting for his turn as Oladipo returns

With Oladipo back, Pacers looking to be a top team in the East

INDIANAPOLIS–“I tell you one thing, the East is in trouble now, boy.”

Myles Turner jumped in during Victor Oladipo’s post-game interview on Fox Sports Indiana and made the verbal statement that the Indiana Pacers had made during the game as they beat the Milwaukee Bucks by a final score of 113-97 for their fifth straight win.

It’s just one game but the Pacers are now only a half game back of the Bucks for second in the Eastern Conference with a record of 18-10 with essentially 12 of those games coming without their star in Oladipo. It was the polar opposite of the Bucks destruction of the Pacers at the beginning of the season.

“It is a big game, but we still see these guys a couple more times,” said Darren Collison. “We’re trying to put it to the whole Eastern Conference. We want to be one of the best teams in the conference.”

Oladipo returned but his teammates continued to carry the load as they had done while he was out. Oladipo took just two shots in the first half, clearly easing his way back into things after an extended absence.

“I can’t get it all back in one possession,” said Oladipo, who finished with 12 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists in 29 minutes. “I haven’t played in three weeks. You try to come out here and do too much, you kind of hurt your team a little bit … I trust my teammates and I trust they’ll make the right play. Guys stepped up and played huge tonight. Myles, Thad, DC hit big shots down the stretch. I’m just glad to be back to help and continue to keep getting better.”

Thad Young is typically the guy whose box-score numbers don’t show his entire impact but tonight they did him justice as he led the team in scoring and did a masterful job on Giannis Antetokounmpo all game.

“I mean I really don’t care,” Young laughed at whether this was his best game as a Pacer. “I’ve never been one to care about stats or anything like that. If I score 2 points and we get the win, I’m happy.”

Young had a season-high 25 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, five steals and a block while holding Antetokounmpo to a season-low 12 points and just seven shot attempts. Young was +28 while he was on the floor and the Bucks star was -31. Young looked like the one that was a possible MVP candidate on this night.

“Great team defense,” Young said on slowing down Antetokounmpo. “My teammates were in gaps and every time I made him spin, they jumped in front of him. Guys were just making him pass the ball out. … He’s a tough guy to guard, especially in transition .. he has me tired right now.”

Teammates all had high praise for their captain’s defensive performance:

“That’s something you’re going to get all year long,” said Collison. “It’s not easy guarding Giannis. Giannis is playing at an MVP-type level and to play defense against him is pretty amazing. You have to give credit to Thaddeus.”

Myles Turner agreed: “Thad was great. He was able to step up with defense on Giannis and we had his back. And he made all the hustle plays. He had all the rebounds, hit some big shots. He had a great overall performance tonight.”

Turner, rocking the ponytail for the second-consecutive game, continued his superb play of late as he scored 23 points on a career-high 22 shot attempts with seven rebounds, four assists and three blocks.

“It’s the hair … no, I’m just playing,” Oladipo said of Turner’s play of late. “It’s been good. We need him to play at that high level. I felt like he was open a lot today as far back as the big was in the pick-and-roll. Throwing it back to him was key for us and it was big time that he was hitting his shots. It opened up the floor for everybody else. A big game from him tonight.”

Turner took a career-high 22 shots including six 3-point attempts. His last three ended a Bucks run that cut the lead briefly to single digits in the fourth and pushed the Pacers lead back to 11.

“Everybody looked at me and said, ‘Man, you gotta shoot when you’re that wide open,'” Turner on his career-high attempts. I didn’t realize I put up 22 shots … My team encouraged me to shoot those shots. It wasn’t like I was out there jacking. I took what was given to me.”

Ponytail Myles seems to ooze with confidence as his last two games with the ponytail are his only 20-point scoring games of the season to this point.

“That’s what everybody is gassing up, saying it’s the ponytail,” Turner said, “so I guess I gotta keep it.”

The Pacers got off to a 22-9 start in the game’s first six minutes and while the Bucks repeatedly cut into the Pacers lead with mini-runs, they never allowed them to get too close before someone on the Pacers shifted momentum back to their side.

“Indiana’s aggressiveness and execution on both ends of the court. I give them a ton of credit,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said, “they were very good tonight. We couldn’t match it, we kept hanging around a little bit, felt like maybe we could make a run, but they would hit a big shot.”

The Pacers dominated the rebounding battle in this one by a margin of 55-43 and held the Bucks to just 25.6% from the 3-point line.

Bojan Bogdanovic added 16 points. Doug McDermott hit all five of his attempts from the floor for 12 points and Domas Sabonis quietly had another double double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Indiana has the 3rd-best defensive rating in the league at this point and the 7th-best overall net rating all while missing a huge chunk of games from their best player. The Pacers have another chance to show they belong with the best teams at the top of the Eastern Conference on Friday as they take on the Philadelphia 76ers.

Finding positives from Victor Oladipo’s continued absence

Obviously, Victor Oladipo being injured is not a good thing for the Indiana Pacers. The team has announced he will be out “indefinitely” with the knee soreness that has plagued him for much of the season and kept him out of the team’s last six games.

That being said, with injury comes opportunity. It’s a situation that the Pacers would rather not be in, but there are positives that can come from it.

Fortunately, it doesn’t seem as bad as the initial announcement made it seem as indefinitely can mean just about anything from a few games to months but is a clear downgrade from “day-to-day.” ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski offered more information than the Pacers official press release initially did and offered a more encouraging outlook.

And with Scott Agness’s report, it seems like the Pacers are just tired of answering questions about Oladipo’s injury every day and want him to take his time to return.

Hopefully, this ends up being similar to last season where once he came back, he was good to go for the remainder of the year.

Here are some possible positives that could come from the extended absence of the Pacers best player: Continue reading Finding positives from Victor Oladipo’s continued absence

Is Darren Collison doomed to repeat his own Pacers history?

Last season was the best of Darren Collison’s career. This year, however, has started off as the worst for the Indiana Pacers starting point guard.

“I want to be there for my teammates,” said Collison, who is averaging career lows in points (8.9), 3-point percentage (32%) and free-throw percentage (69%), after Thursday’s loss to the Spurs, “and right now I haven’t been there for them. Just a tough stretch. I just don’t feel a rhythm at all. Last year, I had more of a feel for the game.”

Collison, who led the entire league in 3-point percentage in 2017-18, has scored five or fewer points in six of the team’s first 19 games including two scoreless outings in the team’s first 12 games. He’s only scored in double figures eight times thus far.

“Nate spoke to me about being more aggressive and getting back to myself. I’ve just been overthinking the first 10, 11 games or so,” Collison said after bouncing back from his second scoreless outing according to the Indy Star. “Sometimes you try to do the right thing and you get away from your game.”

Meanwhile, the other two point guards on the roster have played well to start the season. Cory Joseph has quietly been one of the team’s most important players, and first-round pick Aaron Holiday is making the most of his first opportunity for real playing time with Victor Oladipo out with knee soreness.

It’s not hard to make a case that Joseph should be the starter over Collison right now. Continue reading Is Darren Collison doomed to repeat his own Pacers history?

Pacers lost a strong prospect in Ben Moore

Ben Moore recently agreed to a 2-way deal with the San Antonio Spurs after being waived by the Indiana Pacers and briefly playing for their G-League affiliate the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.

Moore immediately showed that he was too good for the G-League in his four games in Fort Wayne this season as he averaged 20 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in just 25 minutes per game while shooting 73.2% from the field. The Spurs quickly pounced on the opportunity to get the forward.

Continue reading Pacers lost a strong prospect in Ben Moore

Victor Oladipo reminds everyone that this is his city

Victor Oladipo did it again. This time with a pull-up 3-pointer with 3.4 seconds remaining with Kyrie Irving chasing and Al Horford contesting that gave the Indiana Pacers the lead and the victory after he stole the Celtics final inbound pass on the next possession and gave his signature This is My City gesture to the crowd.

It’s not like anyone could forget that fact but no one is going to mind being reminded like they were tonight.

“I’m going for the win,” Oladipo told reporters after the game. “Not because I’m saying I have to every time, but you’ve got to give yourself the confidence to do it and believe that you can do it. I’m not going to say every time we’re down two in a home game that I’m going to shoot a 3 but I’m just going to make the play that’s there.”

It was just over one year ago when Oladipo first laid claim to his city after making the game winner against the San Antonio Spurs. And oh, how he’s quickly endeared himself to the fanbase with relentless positivity and countless clutch moments in his relatively short time as a member of the Pacers.  Continue reading Victor Oladipo reminds everyone that this is his city

Victor Oladipo comes up clutch while dealing with bronchitis

The Indiana Pacers All-Star guard Victor Oladipo struggled on the one of the biggest stages in the basketball world at Madison Square Garden during the first-half with just five points against the New York Knicks on national television.

He went on to score 19 points in the second half including 9 points in the game’s final minutes including a go-ahead steal and two clutch 3-pointers to clinch the win for Indiana.  Continue reading Victor Oladipo comes up clutch while dealing with bronchitis

Tyreke Evans gets a wake up call from the Pacers

Maybe Tyreke Evans hasn’t been around an organization that holds its players accountable much in his career to this point, but the Indiana Pacers aren’t looking to play any games. Evans was late to practice and will not play in tomorrow night’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

“This is the most professional and team-oriented organization I have been with in my career,” said Evans in the team statement. “They deserve my best every day and I am disappointed in myself for causing a distraction that prevents me from being able to help my team tomorrow. I will do better.”  Continue reading Tyreke Evans gets a wake up call from the Pacers

Notes & Numbers: Pacers have been up and down in first four games

The Indiana Pacers have been on a roller coaster start alternating between blowing opponents out and getting blown out in their first four games, winning twice easily at home and losing while not playing well twice on the road.

The most important thing to remember about these games: it’s early. It’s a long season. The Pacers will have good nights and bad ones. It’s important to not overreact to any single one of them in a negative or positive way.

Here are some interesting statistics and notes from the first four games in no particular order:

Myles Turner leads the league in screen assists per game:

In only 25 minutes per game (due to foul trouble and blowouts), Myles Turner leads the league in screen assists at 6.8 per game. The next four players coming right after him (Rudy Gobert, Steven Adams, Tristan Thompson, Enes Kanter) are all playing over 30 minutes per game. The next closest Pacer to Turner’s 6.8 is Domas Sabonis at 3 per game.  Continue reading Notes & Numbers: Pacers have been up and down in first four games

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