Indiana Pacers Head Coach Nate McMillan’s focus all training camp was on rebounding. After one game, it appears that it’s already paying major dividends for the blue and gold.
“In training camp, it was a big penalty if you gave up rebounds in the paint,” McMillan said after the Pacers destruction of the Memphis Grizzlies by a final of 111-83. “I gave the other team three points every time you missed a rebound. It was just a way to get our guys focused on this part of the game. I liked what we did tonight.”
At one point early in the game, the Pacers trio of big men, Myles Turner, Domantas Sabonis and Thaddeus Young each had five rebounds. The Memphis Grizzlies had five rebounds as a team.
“Last year, the biggest problem for us was rebounding,” Young said. “We wanted to impose our will on the glass early and we did a good job of that.”
By the end of the game, the Pacers had more than twice the amount of rebounds as the Grizzlies (57-28) and the +29 advantage was the team’s 4th-best rebounding night in team history. Sabonis (15), Turner (8), Young (8) combined for 31 rebounds on the night, beating Memphis on their own by three rebounds.
“Rebounding is a mentality,” said Turner, who finished with 8 points, 8 rebounds and 4 blocks in only 20 minutes. “Some people call it a skill but I think it’s more of a mentality.”
The Pacers showed off their new mentality on the glass throughout the night.
“It makes it a lot more competitive,” Turner said of McMillan’s rebounding emphasis in practice. “It puts more of an emphasis on grabbing the boards and guards flying in to grab the boards. I thought we did a great job of team rebounding.”
Seven players grabbed at least four rebounds. The same number of players that finished in double figures. Bojan Bogdanovic led the team with 19 points and six rebounds.
Sabonis was the biggest bully on the block with six offensive rebounds and nine defensive rebounds in 28 minutes.
“Whoever wins the rebound game wins the game,” Sabonis said at halftime, “so that’s what we’re trying to do.”
The Pacers next challenge is against the Milwaukee Bucks who were led by Giannis Antetokounmpo, who had 18 rebounds in their season opener. We’ll see if the Pacers continue to impose their will against their opponents.
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