Stray Pacervations: Odds and Ends of the Indiana Pacers winning streak

Stray Pacervations is intended to shed light on the odds and ends, the small things and possible trends that happen during Indiana Pacers games. Some good. Some bad. Some neither.

The Pacers have won four games in a row, four road games in a row, five out of six overall, and just won all three games in a 4-night stretch. It’s been fun. Let’s dive right in. 

Lance Stephenson rebounding with aggression. 

In the Pacers last five games he’s averaging 8 rebounds per game in about 20 minutes. While Lance has an earned reputation for stealing rebounds from teammates, the vast majority of his rebounds during this stretch have been balls that only he could get. Take a look at all of his rebounds for that crazy fourth quarter against the Pistons.

He’s done a tremendous job of fighting for offensive rebounds as wings rarely block out in the NBA; Stephenson’s been taking advantage by picking his spots to go after rebounds and fighting for balls that looked earmarked for easy defensive boards for the opponent. He’s been getting about two extra possessions for the Pacers per game on plays like this one.

Stephenson said after the Pistons game that rebounding sparks his energy, and it’s certainly paying off for the Pacers of late. This is especially good to see as Stephenson has struggled with his shot so far this season.

Myles Turner struggling to finish at the rim. 

While Turner bounced back from his miserable game against the Pistons with a scorching 25 points on only 14 shot attempts against the Miami Heat, his biggest problems on offense all season to this point have been finishing at the rim. Here’s his shot chart so far this season from NBA.com.

shotchart

Turner’s shooting 13% below the league average on shots at the rim. It’s frustrating knowing that Turner can dunk all over people at times like his finish against Tristan Thompson in last year’s playoffs. Some of the shots he didn’t get the roll or didn’t get a foul call, but that number is far below what you want to see from a big man that close to the basket. Turner still has a bad habit of double clutching or bringing the ball down too low at times instead of taking advantage of his height, length and athletic ability to just dunk on people.

It is still a small sample size. Turner hit 65% of his shots at the rim last year, so hopefully this is just a blip and Turner will start finishing much more often on those easy chances.

Still, the Pacers will want to see Turner finish more like this in the future.

Alex Poythress here to stay? 

Alex Poythress signed with the Pacers on a 2-way contract that would allow the Pacers to keep him in Fort Wayne for the majority of the season, but keep his rights so other teams wouldn’t be able to call him up. But Poythress hasn’t been with the Mad Ants all season to this point despite barely playing and the Pacers sending Ike Anigbogu to Fort Wayne recently to get some playing time.

The Pacers do have an empty roster spot, so the Pacers may be planning to convert Poythress’s contract to an NBA deal once his 45 days are used up from the 2-way deal. The Pacers could then sign another player to a 2-way deal like Jarrod Uthoff or Ben Moore, who are already playing for the Mad Ants and were with the Pacers in preseason.

Dipo backdoor cut for a dunk continues to work to perfection.

This play seems to work at least once per game. Last night against the Magic, Orlando sniffed it out on one play and then the Pacers re-ran it on the very next play with familiar results.

I’ve analyzed this Domas and Dipo play (that I’ll call D&D from now on) already in an article about Sabonis’s natural chemistry with everyone, so I won’t go into further detail here.

Bojan Bogdanovic is on fire right now.

Bogie is shooting 54% from 3-point range in 11 games in November and is averaging 16 points per game this month. He scored 26 points in the back-to-back against the Heat and the Magic, including a ridiculous 24 points in the second half last night. He’s doing more than just scoring from deep too, showing a surprising amount of ability off the bounce and in the midrange as well. This shot against the Heat was particularly impressive.

A more in-depth look may be needed soon as he’s now the Pacers best offensive player in NBA Math’s TPA metric.

8-man rotation here to stay?

In the last two and a half games, the Pacers have cut their rotation to just eight players. TJ Leaf is the latest odd man out. After the Pacers came back in part thanks to a lineup featuring Bogdanovic at the power forward position against the Pistons, McMillan has looked to use him more in that role over the past two games. With the Pacers also looking to find more time for Myles and Domas to play together, this has meant no playing time for Leaf over past two nights.

The results have been great for the Pacers, but McMillan will have to manage blowout minutes better than he normally does if he plans on sticking with a small rotation. He kept starters and rotation players in during a 30-point blowout against the Heat until only a few minutes remained when the Pacers had a game the next night. It’s hard to see the Pacers not eventually wearing down if that kind of pattern continues.

When Glenn Robinson III returns from injury, the Pacers will be hard pressed to find minutes for the rookie Leaf. Leaf has shown promise on the offensive end of the court but still has a long way to go defensively.

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