All posts by Derek Kramer

Editor-in-Chief of iPacers.com. Designer of T-shirts. Teacher of 5th-graders.

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.

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Wesley Matthews has ‘Pacers spirit’

The Indiana Pacers didn’t make any league altering trades at the deadline but don’t overlook the coming addition of Wesley Matthews.

Matthews, who was traded to the New York Knicks earlier this week, agreed to a buyout and plans to sign with the Pacers for the veteran minimum once he clears waivers according to multiple media reports.

As with any midseason addition to a group with great chemistry, it’s always important to consider how someone will fit in the locker room. Matthews seems like an ideal culture fit that goes with the organization’s mantra of the 3Ts: toughness, togetherness and trust.

“Perfect pickup for us,” Thad Young told reporters after Thursday’s game. “… Most of all he brings toughness, a defensive mentality we need. He embodies what we do as a team. He has that Pacers spirit in him already.” Continue reading Wesley Matthews has ‘Pacers spirit’

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.

Where do the Pacers go from here?

The Indiana Pacers lost Victor Oladipo to a season-ending knee injury in the second quarter of Wednesday’s game. He suffered a ruptured quad tendon that could put him out anywhere from six to twelve months.

There are no adequate words to describe the numbness that comes in the moments and hours directly after witnessing an injury that devastating. Shock, disbelief, clinging to some tiny hope that it isn’t as bad as it seems.

There was no joy in watching the Pacers continue to play after Oladipo was taken out on a stretcher. No anxiety as the game was close in the final minute. None of that mattered much. The Pacers had already lost more than this one game could possibly make up for. Continue reading Where do the Pacers go from here?

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.

Ponytail Myles: The confident, surprisingly vulgar Pacers two-way monster

Myles Turner is having the best stretch of his career with Indiana Pacers and the timing aligns precisely with a new hairstyle.

Coincidence?

“That’s what everybody is gassing up,” Turner said after he scored 23 points against the Bucks, “Everybody’s saying it’s the ponytail, so I guess I gotta keep it now, right? … I just wanted to try something different and then my teammates … said it looks good, go for it.”

In the four games since Turner first broke out the pony, he’s averaged 20.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.8 blocks, 1.5 assists while shooting 52.4% from the field on 15.8 attempts per game and 60% from 3-point range on 3.8 attempts, which earned him a nomination for the Eastern Conference Player of the Week that his teammate Thad Young was awarded.

“Ponytail Myles!” Cory Joseph, who claimed to be the inspiration for it, joked during Turner’s post-game media session after the win against Milwaukee. “He got the dreads out of his hair. He can finally see the rim now!”

His teammates have had some fun joking about the hairstyle change, but it’s his huge contributions to this 7-game winning streak that’s been the focus.

“It’s the hair … no, I’m just playing,” Victor Oladipo said of Turner’s play of late. “It’s been good. We need him to play at that high level.”

Ponytail Myles has no chill

Ponytail Myles isn’t just playing well. He’s also playing with a new attitude. In the first game of this era, Turner and Bradley Beal got into it a bit after Beal flopped and Turner called him a motherf***er. Continue reading Ponytail Myles: The confident, surprisingly vulgar Pacers two-way monster

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

Pacers rookie Aaron Holiday makes his first opportunity count

INDIANAPOLIS–Aaron Holiday hadn’t played meaningful minutes all season. The Indiana Pacers first-round draft pick hadn’t played at all in the team’s last nine consecutive games.

Tonight, Holiday came in with 3:14 left in the third quarter and never came back out, electrifying the crowd with pull-up 3-pointers, chasedown block attempts in transition, and a nifty behind-the-back assist.

“We don’t win this game if he doesn’t come in and play the way he did on both ends of the floor,” Nate McMillan said of the rookie point guard.

Holiday, who finished with 12 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists in his 15 minutes, pulled up for a 3-pointer in transition upon almost immediately after entering the game. The shot gave the Pacers the lead at 68-67 and they never gave it back. The Pacers went on to win 97-89 over the Atlanta Hawks.

With Victor Oladipo exiting the game with knee soreness early in the first quarter, the Pacers were in need of a next man up as the game swayed with large runs from both teams as the Pacers went from down 10 to up 3 to down 12 before Holiday’s shot gave them the lead for good in the third quarter.

“Anytime we lose a guy like Victor, we have to figure out a way to supplement his scoring and his defensive ability,” said Thad Young, who added 11 points and 7 rebounds, “and we figured it out. We got a lot of guys that can step up on any given night and tonight … Aaron was the true player of the game.”

Young is impressed with the team’s rookie and he earned the praise of many of the veterans in the locker room after the game.

“I’ve always said that he’s better than his draft number,” Young said of Holiday. “Definitely could have been one of the guys in the top 10 especially when you put him one-on-one against anybody in his draft class. He’s done a good job waiting for his turn, staying poised and the sky’s the limit for him.”

Darren Collison, who went 4 for 5 in the second half with 12 points after missing all five of his first-half attempts, was glad to see Holiday be rewarded after seeing him working hard throughout training camp and during the season.

“He’s stayed working, the first one in the gym,” Collison said of his fellow UCLA point guard. “It just makes you happy for somebody that has that success like he did tonight. He’s a real good player. He’s going to be a good player in this league … It’s only going to be sky’s the limit because that kid can play. Once he gets his opportunity on a consistent basis, it’s going to be good things to come.”

Both Collison and Young noted his sky-high potential. Cory Joseph said he thinks Holiday will have a long career, but Holiday knows he still has a lot to prove and isn’t getting too high off of just a single game.

“I don’t think I earned anything yet,” Holiday said when asked if he thought this game would lead to more playing time. “It’s just one game. I’ll just keeping working, see what happens.”

While Holiday would clearly like to be playing more often, he understands it’s a waiting game for him at the start of his career.

“It’s very tough,” Holiday said. “Being a competitor like I am, I wanted to get out there, but obviously, in the league you have to wait for your time and I’m just happy it came today.”

The team took a final turning point after the Hawks had scored 17 straight points from the end of the second quarter through the beginning of the third. After a quick timeout, Thad Young took it upon himself to call out the team for the lack of effort.

“The players gathered, and they knew that we needed this game,” said McMillan. “… Sometimes those guys have to police themselves, and that was a moment when they knew that. There’s only so much that I can say … I can call a timeout, but you know you need to get it together and that was a moment where they got together and talked about playing better basketball and we ended up winning that game.”

Bojan Bogdanovic led the team in scoring with 22 points. Myles Turner had his first double double of the season with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Domas Sabonis had a nice all-around game with 9 points, 16 rebounds and 6 assists.

The Pacers were 0-5 last season without Oladipo in the lineup and while technically he played tonight this was a good sign for the team’s depth and ability to find ways to win without their All Star player at all or without him at his best for the second straight night.

The Pacers won last night’s game against the Miami Heat with Oladipo having one of his worst nights as a Pacer with just 8 points as Tyreke Evans took over with his best game in Indiana with 23 points. Another game, another player steps up.

Oladipo is day-to-day with the knee soreness and while the team certainly hopes he doesn’t have to miss any games, they look more equipped to deal with his absence now than last season.

Having Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis a luxury for Indiana Pacers

While the NBA as a whole may be getting smaller, the Indiana Pacers have the rare luxury of two superb options at the center position in Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis.

“The dynamic duo of bigs that we have is phenomenal,” Victor Oladipo told reporters after the win against the Chicago Bulls. “It just goes to show you. … Myles protecting the rim like he did today, Domantas carrying us the way he did the other day coming off the bench and doing a great job like he always does, there’s no drop-off. That’s hard to find in this league.”

The Pacers pair of centers have come up huge at different points in the last three games thanks to their varying strengths.

On Wednesday, it was Sabonis and his rolling to the basket and rebounding that led the way as he scored 30 points with perfect shooting from the field at 12 for 12 in only 21 minutes before fouling out.

“He got in foul trouble and only played seven minutes in the first half,” Pacers coach Nate McMillan said of Domas after the Knicks game. “In the second half, he continued to be aggressive and make plays for us. When we have a combination like that, guys playing well, we’re going to stay with them. He did an excellent job on both ends of the floor not only scoring for us but rebounding the ball.”

McMillan likes to roll with the hot hand and in the last three games it’s alternated between Sabonis and Turner down the stretch at the center position with each game coming down to the wire.

On Friday, it was Myles Turner’s turn as he made all of his 2-point attempts on his way to 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting. The spacing his jump shot added to the team was a big factor but his biggest contributions came on the defensive end as he protected the rim as well as he has all season and blocked six shots, including the Bulls final attempt at the buzzer to win it.

“Protect the rim and be the best shot blocker in the NBA that I know I am,” Myles Turner said of what he was trying to do when he came in during the fourth quarter against the Bulls on the post-game interview.

“That’s what we wanted him to do is to defend the basket,” McMillan said after that one. “Tonight, he had to come out and defend the perimeter. Their guards are scorers, and those guys have the ability to shoot behind that 3-point line and they were knocking down some shots. We stayed with our defense trying to pressure those guys, keeping our bigs up, and he had the game-winning block at the end there.”

On Saturday, both players had their moments as Turner played well in the first three quarters scoring 12 points on only six shot attempts, but Sabonis got himself going in the fourth quarter playing alongside Tyreke Evans. After Turner came in a little later than he normally does in the final quarter, things simply weren’t going his way on either end as he committed a double dribble, got called for an illegal screen (questionable) and missed a midrange attempt, and McMillan went back to Sabonis quickly for the rest of the game.

“It’s part of the game,” Turner told Mark Montieth of Pacers.com afterwards. “Coach goes with what he feels is working. It’s not my job to sit back and complain. Just because I get subbed out, I’m not going to hope for guys not to do well. That’s not the way I’m built and that’s not the way this team is built.”

And that’s an important factor for both of these players to the team’s chemistry and success, they’re always putting the team ahead of themselves. Neither sulks on the bench after they get replaced by the other in the game.

While it might eventually be an issue with both players wanting more time on the court than they are currently getting, neither center is complaining at this point. The easiest solution to this would be the pair playing together, but it’s been at best a very mixed bag so far this season.

To be blunt, the overall numbers when they share the floor are terrible. Turner and Sabonis play on average just under five minutes per game together. Those lineups have a net rating of negative 17.5. The offense has simply gone to a halt at a abysmal 83.8 offensive rating.

There are some glimmers of hope buried in the numbers however while looking at specific lineups. When Sabonis replaces Thad Young and is playing with the rest of the starters including Turner, the Pacers have a net rating of 26.3. It’s an extremely small sample size of only eight minutes on the season, but that’s the third highest net rating of any lineup that has played at least that long this season.

Sabonis’s perfect shooting night against the Knicks also began by him dominating against smaller defenders while playing as the power forward alongside Turner. He scored on his first five offensive possessions that night starting with some offensive rebounds and putbacks and ending by abusing Enes Kanter’s pick-and-roll defense.

All of the statistics this year are still small sample sizes but if the Pacers want to give their pair of young centers their best chance at success, they may want to find ways to use them together more effectively on offense. Right now, both players have much higher net ratings when they play without the other player (Turner 7.1 and Sabonis 10.2).

The good news is that there is plenty of time for both players to improve and we’re seeing a lot of improvement from both Sabonis and Turner already this season.

One of Turner’s biggest struggles at times has been letting himself get rushed in his eagerness when opportunities come his way on the offensive end.

“Players who play with each other a couple of years, they know where they’re going to be,” Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard said at the beginning of this past offseason. “That makes the game come slower. Domas, the game already comes slow. He can make reads. Myles, he gets a little frantic. And that makes a difference. He’s got to calm down a little bit.”

He’s started writing “TYT” (take your time) on his shoes and has made noticeable strides with his patience especially in the post where he has calmly made many moves with success that were rare last year.

He makes that dribble to the side often when a defender flashes towards him. Last season, he would have been much more likely to either take a quick shot or pick up his dribble and pass the ball at the first sign of a double team.

After struggling to finish inside after suffering a concussion early last season as he shot just 57% around the rim, he’s been very strong at that area this season at 72%. His patience a possible reason for that uptick in improvement this year as well.

While Turner’s rebounding numbers haven’t improved yet, his primary job on that end is to protect the rim. If he’s going to block a shot by helping on someone else’s man, that’s going to leave him out of position for a potential rebound. With how well he’s been defending at the basket, it’s not overly concerning that his rebound totals are stagnant as the team defense remains strong while he’s out there.

Most of the weaknesses for Sabonis are on the defensive end. While he’ll never be able to block shots like Turner, he’s been good on that end this season when playing at the center spot. According to NBA Math, Sabonis has the third-best DPS (Defensive Points Saved, Turner ranks first on the team in the same metric) on the Pacers and is actually the 17th-highest ranked player overall in TPA (Total Points Added) so far this season.

You’d still like to see Sabonis turn the ball over less (six turnovers in the same Knicks game where he didn’t miss a field goal) but he has improved in another area of his game that at times caused turnovers as defenses sat on his strong hand, especially in the post. You’re way more likely to see him use his right hand down low than in his first two seasons in the league where he earned the nickname Reverse Zoolander.

Both players have already dealt with foul trouble on a few occasions so far this season and have certainly committed a few fouls that they’d each like to have back, but that again showcases the value of having both players available when one is having issues with whistles.

The Indiana Pacers are very fortunate to have both of these dynamic, young big men in the present. With Turner locked up with his extension, the question will he whether they can afford to keep this luxury after next season when Sabonis’s rookie deal ends. For now, the Pacers get to enjoy the strengths of both players.