All posts by Derek Kramer

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

The Warning Signs & Bright Lights from Game One

Thanks to a sizzling second half from Paul George (27 points on 10 of 13 shooting), the Indiana Pacers defeated the Toronto Raptors 100-90 and lead the series 1-0.

It’s a huge win to open the playoffs as the team that wins game one wins the series 77% of the time, but if the Pacers want to cause the Raptors to go home after the first round for the third straight season via defeat to a lower-seeded team, there were some problematic areas that the Pacers can’t allow to become series-long trends.

Continue reading The Warning Signs & Bright Lights from Game One

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Paul George enjoys some popcorn on the bench

The Pacers clinched their 5th playoff appearance in their last 6 seasons (or they have made it every year that Paul George has had two healthy legs) by blowing out the Brooklyn Nets.

At one point in the 3rd quarter, the Pacers led by 40, so the starters were free to sit back, relax, and enjoy the rest of the game. Paul George even managed to get a snack from a young fan sitting behind the home team’s bench. 

Paul George hasn’t been able to sit out a lot of final quarters this year, so it’s good to see him taking advantage of it.

  
Get your popcorn ready, Pacers fans! The Pacers are in the playoffs for the 21st time since 1990, which is the second most in the NBA over that time period. They will face either the Toronto Raptors or Cleveland Cavaliers.

Debut Diary: Newly acquired Ty Lawson

Ty Lawson officially signed with the Pacers this morning and will play limited minutes tonight against the behemoth, almighty Spurs from San Antonio. The information that follows are my thoughts before, during, and after the game.

Pre-game:

5:12 PM: While reading the many, many stories on the Ty Lawson addition, it seems my optimism for the move is rising. I was skeptical that the bad fit in Houston was (fully) responsible for Lawson’s abysmal career-low numbers: points (5.4), assists (3.4), PER (9.0), net rating (-14), and true shooting percentage (48%). All of these numbers aren’t just slightly lower than what Ty Lawson did during his career. They fell off a cliff. Lawson was good for about 16 points and 7 assists during his last four years in Denver. His PER has never been below the league average of 15 until this season. Continue reading Debut Diary: Newly acquired Ty Lawson

Pacers to sign Ty Lawson and buyout Chase Budinger

Larry Bird narrowed down his choices in the 2009 NBA Draft to two players: Tyler Hansbrough and Ty Lawson. Bird went with Hansbrough, who played four meh seasons with the Pacers, while Lawson was a speed demon for the Denver Nuggets, averaging at least 16 points and 6 assists in each of his final four seasons with the team.

Recently, Bird even admitted that he blew the pick. But Lawson after getting another DUI over last summer, was traded to the Rockets for players, a protected 2016 first round pick, and a 2017 second round pick. Things did not work out for Lawson in Houston. He’s had his worst season as a professional: averaging a measly 5.8 points and 3.4 assists. It’s been such a bad fit that Houston bought Lawson out of his contract, and he is now free to sign with any team.

Now, Larry Bird, who never seems to lose interest in a guy once he becomes a fan of them (tried to trade for George Hill for multiple seasons, went after Chase Budinger when he was a free agent a few years ago), and Ty Lawson are now in serious negotiations according to Shams Charania of Yahoo’s The Vertical. Continue reading Pacers to sign Ty Lawson and buyout Chase Budinger

The Constant Evolution of Myles Turner

With the Indiana Pacers trailing by three points to the Oklahoma City Thunder with just under a minute remaining in the game, Monta Ellis drove towards the lane. As Steven Adams and Serge Ibaka converged to help, Ellis kicked it out to the open man standing in the corner ready for the pass behind the 3-point line, 19-year-old rookie, Myles Turner.

The rookie, who had only attempted two 3-pointers and had made none so far this season, calmly gathered the low pass at his feet and immediately rose with confidence to take the shot. Nothing but net. Tie game.

His first career 3-pointer and yet another Mylestone in the constant evolution of Myles Turner.

Myles Turner learned a new skill. Something that seems to happen nearly every game for the fast learning, hard working rookie.

“His biggest quality is that he’s not afraid. He’s never afraid, he’s never shying away from the moment,” Paul George said after the Thunder game, “He asks questions; he wants to learn, wants to get better, and works hard. It’s everything you want in a young player. He has it, and he’s going to be special for us.”

At the start of the season, it was clear that Frank Vogel didn’t want to put too much burden on the Pacers first-round draft pick. He was going to play off the bench at the 5 spot, so he could focus on learning just one position while he got used to the speed of the NBA game.

Myles came into the league with a couple of skills: A smooth jumper, his Turneround™ post move, and an impeccable sense of timing when it came to blocking shots. He used these skills to average 5.9 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 0.8 blocks in his first 18 career games and missed over a month and a half with a thumb injury. Modest numbers in about 18 minutes per contest, but you could still see flashes of his potential in every game.

Then the Pacers went on a 4-game Western Conference road trip and Myles Turner put on a nightly show. Turner averaged 20.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.8 blocks over the trip, including a 31-performance over the defending champion Golden State Warriors that made me tweet this:

“You would have to say fairly that he’s one of the most, if not the most, surprising players in the draft,” Detroit Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said to the Indy Star. “I think everybody pretty much knew he was going to be a good player, but I think a lot of people thought it would take more time than this and he’s playing very well.”

Turner was starting to show off even more skills: preventing dunks with blocks that recalled the memory of Roy Hibbert’s block on Carmelo Anthony in the playoffs, hook shots in the post, crafty, quick finishes in the lane. While he was still out of position at times on defense and Vogel knew it might be a “roller coaster,” Myles Turner was moved to the starting lineup, where Pacers fans hope he stays for a good 12-15 years.

Not only is Turner starting, but Vogel is playing him at power forward alongside Ian Mahinmi. While Mahinmi has recently struggled to stay on the court, the Pacers are now 4-1 when the tandem starts the game.

“I don’t know how fast and how far he develops in the final 29 games,” said Vogel in Candace Buckner’s great profile on Turner, “but it will be a big factor in what our ceiling is.”

The result is a rare mix of spacing on offense, but an abundance of rim protection and rebounding on defense. Turner is blocking anything that comes near him at the rim and that includes serving up some smothered chicken to LeBron James.

In the OKC game, assistant coach Popeye Jones told Turner that he wasn’t doing much on defense according to Jeremiah Johnson. Turner responded with 5 blocks in the 3rd-quarter alone.

The lineup is just touching the surface of its potential in terms of spacing now that Turner can take open corner threes. As Turner proves he’s ready to hit the long range shots and Vogel gives him more freedom to take those, the spacing will continue to grow on offense.

The end result may be Larry Bird finally getting that fast paced offense with lots of free flowing movement and spacing, and Frank Vogel playing his preferred style of having two bigs on the court at all times. The best of both worlds.

The always growing skillset of Myles Turner can do that for you.

Myles Turner signed 8×10 giveaway:
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Don’t Yawn. Mahinmi’s Improvement is Impressive

This has been a season of change for the Pacers, a year of transition: going from exclusively using slow, traditional lineups to having the flexibility of using both faster spread lineups and traditional lineups and from having an elite defense that forces inefficient mid-range shots to sending out an above average defense that forces a lot of turnovers; Paul George has returned and is better than ever. C.J. Miles is playing as a stretch four after 10 years of being a wing. There are seven players on the roster that were not on the Pacers a year ago. George Hill is blonde. Out of all of this sudden change, none of it has been more surprising than the vast improvement of everything in Ian Mahinmi’s offensive skill set.

Shooting. Passing. Dribbling. Catching. Footwork. You name it; Ian Mahinmi got better at it over the off-season, an incredible feat for a veteran entering his eighth season in the Association.

Continue reading Don’t Yawn. Mahinmi’s Improvement is Impressive

How C.J. Miles Saved the Pacers Season

Sharpshooter C.J. Miles saved this season for the Pacers and perhaps even many seasons in the future. I’m sure you’re thinking, “CJ Miles? I think you misspelled Paul George.” And, sure, you’re right; if we’re talking about saviors, then Paul George is clearly Jesus for the Pacers. But C.J. Miles is John the Baptist. I imagine you may feel a lot like Miles below, but stay with me for a second:

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Continue reading How C.J. Miles Saved the Pacers Season

iPacers Biweekly Wrap: 11/8/2015 – 11/22/2015

The Pacers played 7 games in the last two weeks and only lost 2 games by a combined 5 points. They are now 8-2 in their last 10 games over the 0-3 start and sit at 4th-place in the East. In this 10-game stretch, the Pacers have had the best defense in the NBA by advanced metrics and currently have the 5th-best net rating in the NBA for the entire season. The Pacers defensive philosophy may have changed, but it’s as good as ever. Forcing turnovers was never a focal point in year’s past, but they currently average the 2nd-most steals per game in the league and forced 54 turnovers in the last two blowout victories against the Sixers and Bucks. Here’s some quick analysis on each player over the last two weeks:

1. Paul George: Paul George has never played better in his career than he has in the past two weeks. At this point, it’d be surprising if he doesn’t earn the Eastern Conference Player of the Month. While Paul George’s streak of 26 points came to an end at 8, it only happened in a game the Pacers won by nearly 40 points where George “only” scored 20 points in the first three quarters while sitting on the final frame of the blowout. No one is more responsible for how well the Pacers have been playing their past 10 games than PG.
Previous 2-weeks Stats: 21.5 PPG, 9 RPG, 4.3 APG, 2 STL
Previous Grade: A-
Current 2-weeks stats: 27.7 PPG, 8 RPG, 5.3 APG, 1.3 STL
Current Grade: A+

Continue reading iPacers Biweekly Wrap: 11/8/2015 – 11/22/2015

Indiana Pacers Biweekly Wrap: A Tale of Two Pacers 10/28/2015 – 11/7/2015

Welcome to iPacers first biweekly wrap of the 2015-16 season. It’s been an interesting start to the season with two close losses to start against the Raptors and Grizzlies, followed by an embarrassing home blowout loss to the Jazz, but since the Pacers have rattled off 3 straight wins against Eastern conference foes (Pistons, Celtics, and Heat). The Pacers have played both big and small with mixed results for both of them early, but with a lot of success lately. A common theme early was poor second halves that haunted the Pacers in each of the first three losses, but they’ve managed to win two straight close games in the final quarter with great defense and just enough offense. Here’s some brief analysis and a grade for each player on the roster through the Pacers first six games:

Continue reading Indiana Pacers Biweekly Wrap: A Tale of Two Pacers 10/28/2015 – 11/7/2015

Mel Daniels, Pacers legend, dies at the age of 71

The world lost a beloved man today. Pacers legend and Hall of Famer Mel Daniels died at the age of 71. On the basketball court, Daniels was one of the Pacers all-time greats. He averaged over 19 points and 16 rebounds in his six seasons with the team while winning 3 ABA Championships. Daniels was a 2-time ABA MVP, a 7-time ABA All-Star, and the league’s all-time leader in rebounds. He turned down a scholarship offer to play with another Indiana hoops legend, Oscar Robertson, at Cincinnati to be the first first-round draft pick to chose the ABA over the NBA. He’s one of only four Pacers to have his number retired by the organization. After his playing career was over, Daniels served many positions in the Pacers organization including assistant coach and scout and was an active part of the franchise even today. Here are reactions from all over the NBA:

Continue reading Mel Daniels, Pacers legend, dies at the age of 71

iPacers 2015-16 Season Preview: Predictions, Guesses, Hypotheses, and More Things That I’ll Be Wrong About [GIVEAWAY DETAILS INSIDE]

Rejoice for the NBA season is here! The Indiana Pacers start playing again tomorrow night! Their first opponent is on the road against the Toronto Raptors led by Kyle Lowry (also featuring former Pacer Luis Scola).

There have been so many changes to the team over the offseason with nearly half of the roster from last season now playing elsewhere (David West, Roy Hibbert, Scola, Damjan Rudez, Chris Copeland, Donald Sloan, CJ Watson). New players came from free agency (Monta Ellis, Glenn Robinson III, Jordan Hill), the draft (Myles Turner and Joe Young), and via trade (Chase Budinger, Rakeem Christmas). Larry Bird and Frank Vogel are switching to a completely new style on the court this year, emphasizing the space and pace that has been all the rage lately in the NBA. Paul George is somewhat reluctantly trying a new position on offense while returning from a broken leg. The Pacers focus has been offense, offense, offense in training camp, which is strange after seeing Pacers teams built on “smashmouth” basketball with Hibbert and West. With so many new variables, it feels like this year just about anything could happen for the Pacers and all of their players. So, naturally, when the year feels especially unpredictable, I thought I’d give a few predictions for what I think is in store for the Pacers season:

Continue reading iPacers 2015-16 Season Preview: Predictions, Guesses, Hypotheses, and More Things That I’ll Be Wrong About [GIVEAWAY DETAILS INSIDE]

Roger Brown: This Picture is Worth a Thousand Words #2

In case, this is your first time here: Here’s the concept of This Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words: I take an interesting picture from the history of the Indiana Pacers from ABA glory to the modern era and literally write 1,000 words about the photo.

If you missed the first of the series: Here’s my analysis of Reggie-Miller-tortured Knicks fans.

My 1,000 words start now:

Continue reading Roger Brown: This Picture is Worth a Thousand Words #2

Pacers Preseason Wrap Up / Season Predictions

The Pacers ended their preseason with a 5-2 record and seemed to get more and more comfortable with each other every game: an important factor when nearly half of the team is new to playing with each other. Here’s some positive, negative, and in between thoughts on preseason and the Pacers hopes for this rapidly approaching regular season.

Continue reading Pacers Preseason Wrap Up / Season Predictions

Reggie Miller at the Garden: This Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words #1

Trying out a new blog post series today called This Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words. You can probably guess what this series will be, but here’s the concept: I find an interesting picture from Pacers history (from the way, way back in the ABA days to the glorious shots of the current team) and literally write one thousand words on it. This could be a disaster, but it should be a fun one.

I can’t think of a better way to start than with my favorite sports photo of all-time as seen above. Here we go, exactly 1,000 words starting now:
Continue reading Reggie Miller at the Garden: This Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words #1

Everybody hates Roy

Roy Hibbert has a knack for saying the wrong thing to the media. There was his dumb “no homo” joke in the playoffs and the “selfish dudes” comment pointed towards unnamed teammates in the midst of the great collapse of 2013-14. And, now, here’s what Roy had to say in a Q&A with David Aldridge:

“Hibbert said what? Now he’s bashing Frank Vogel on his way out? Man, I’m so glad he’s gone. What a cheap shot. No respect.” This was the general reaction by Pacers fans and the local media. Here’s a sampling of what I saw on Twitter within a couple hours:

Continue reading Everybody hates Roy

The roster is full: A Quick Overview of the 2015-16 Indiana Pacers.

With the Pacers signing of Glenn Robinson III to a 3-year deal and acquisition of Rakeem Christmas via trade, the Pacers have quickly filled up their roster with 15 players now under contract. Only 8 of the 15 were on the Pacers squad last season, as 7 were either not resigned (Luis Scola, Chris Copeland, Donald Sloan, CJ Watson), were traded (Roy Hibbert, Damjan Rudež) or simply opted out of their contract to sign elsewhere (David West).

So, with nearly half of last year’s roster out of town. Here’s what the roster looks like when divided up into three different position categories:

Continue reading The roster is full: A Quick Overview of the 2015-16 Indiana Pacers.

How the Pacers traded Dale Davis for a 2019 2nd-round draft pick

Diving through a transaction web and seeing all the moves that had to happen in order for a team to get a certain player can be mesmerizing at times. I was thinking about this the other day and found one web that will go back nearly 30 years by the time it comes to fruition. It all boils down to this: The Pacers traded Dale Davis for a 2019 2nd-round pick. Confused? Well, let me explain:

Continue reading How the Pacers traded Dale Davis for a 2019 2nd-round draft pick

Pacers announce ‘Hoosiers’-themed “Hickory Pacers” uniforms for 2015-16 season

George Hill made the announcement on Twitter a little over an hour ago:

Maybe, the most important part of this announcement is that we finally know why George Hill went blonde. It’s so his hair would match the Hickory Pacers uniforms. I must say, George, it’s a nice touch.

Continue reading Pacers announce ‘Hoosiers’-themed “Hickory Pacers” uniforms for 2015-16 season