Tag Archives: Victor Oladipo

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.

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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

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

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

Season Preview: 3 Questions and 4 Predictions for the 2018-19 Indiana Pacers

The NBA is back and the Indiana Pacers return tonight in their season opener.

The Eastern Conference is more wide open than it has been in maybe a decade now that you-know-who has taken his talents to the West, but most of the pundits seem to point to the Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers and Toronto Raptors as the favorites to get to the NBA Finals.

While most expect the Pacers to finish at about the same spot in the playoffs as last season, they enter the year with an upgraded bench and a returning starting lineup that had so much chemistry in their first year together. Can they surprise the basketball world a second straight season and make some noise in the playoffs? We’re about to find out.

Here’s some of the questions for the team this season with some predictions sprinkled in as well.

Can Victor Oladipo become an MVP candidate?

In the team’s offseason “mini-camp” in Miami, players came back reporting that Victor Oladipo looked like he was going to be even better than the year before. He was the player that guys pointed out as looking highly improved over the summer.

That’s saying something for the winner of the Most Improved Player award.

“I’m still hungry,” Oladipo said this past July. “I think I’m hungrier now than I was when I first got here. I want to be great. I’ve been saying that since I walked into his facility and started being a Pacer. I want to be one of the greatest to ever play this game. Whatever I got to do to do that, I’m going to try my best to try and achieve that and in the process of winning. That’s the goal.”

Continue reading Season Preview: 3 Questions and 4 Predictions for the 2018-19 Indiana Pacers

Victor Oladipo appears on HBO’s The Shop

Victor Oladipo showed up on the second episode of The Shop on HBO, LeBron James’s new show where athletes and celebrities have an open conversation in a barbershop.

The Indiana Pacers star showed off his singing voice to start the show off.

He also talked about his experience over his first four seasons in the league, the struggles in his only season in Oklahoma City and being traded twice in a year.  Continue reading Victor Oladipo appears on HBO’s The Shop

Preseason Takeaways: Pacers look ready for the regular season against Cavaliers

The Indiana Pacers won their third preseason game against the Cleveland Cavaliers 111-102. As said previously, the results don’t really matter but not everything from these preseason games is without value.

This game was an entertaining one from the start. Here are some takeaways that we can look for when the regular season starts in just 9 days.  Continue reading Preseason Takeaways: Pacers look ready for the regular season against Cavaliers

What mattered in the Indiana Pacers preseason win over the Houston Rockets

Drawing conclusions from a preseason game is dubious, but after the Indiana Pacers preseason win over the Houston Rockets (110-100), we can all agree on one thing: it’s good to have Pacers basketball back.

Though much of the preseason is meaningless there are still a few takeaways that could be meaningful once the games actually matter.

Edmond Sumner looks like an NBA player

Easily the highlight of the game for Indiana was the play of their second-year, two-way contract guard Edmond Sumner.

Sumner filled in for Tyreke Evans, who missed the game with a sprained ankle and played 19 minutes that showed off his athleticism and potential.

Sumner played Evans’s role well and made some impressive drives to the rim throughout the game. His biggest highlight a dunk along the baseline in the first half as he got his first poster of his NBA career.  Continue reading What mattered in the Indiana Pacers preseason win over the Houston Rockets

Pacers Victor Oladipo wants to start a campaign to be in Space Jam 2

Indiana Pacers star guard Victor Oladipo wants to be in the Space Jam sequel.

“Yes, let’s start a campaign,” said Oladipo at media day when asked about his desire to be a Monstar in the LeBron James-led Space Jam sequel. “Let’s make this happen. I would be a crazy Monstar. I think that would be pretty dope.”

Oladipo wants a campaign. Let’s give him a campaign.

It may have helped his case if he said one of the four movies he watched every night before going to sleep was Space Jam instead of Home Alone 1 & 2, Shrek or Mulan, but I digress.

The first step to any online campaign has to be the hashtag, so here are some possibilities:  Continue reading Pacers Victor Oladipo wants to start a campaign to be in Space Jam 2

Indiana Pacers chemistry only getting stronger with new acquisitions

The Indiana Pacers greatest strength last season may have been their chemistry and to this point it looks like it’s only improved over the offseason.

“You know it when you see it,” Myles Turner said of the team’s chemistry after the first training camp practice. “You just feel it.”

Indiana hasn’t played a game yet and you can feel it already. Whether it’s the above picture from media day with most of the returning players laughing together or Bojan Bogdanovic giving Victor Oladipo a huge hug when he first saw him.

Last season was the first year the majority of the team had been with the Pacers as they quickly grew a unique bond. With most of the core contributors returning from last year’s roster, Pacers President of Basketball Operations Kevin Pritchard thinks those relationships will continue to grow.

Continue reading Indiana Pacers chemistry only getting stronger with new acquisitions

The Indiana Pacers put the depth in Depth Chart

With additions of Tyreke Evans, Doug McDermott, Kyle O’Quinn and Aaron Holiday, the Indiana Pacers roster is almost filled with 13 players under contract currently. And second-round pick Alize Johnson seems likely to become the 14th soon with his strong Summer League play.

They also have two 2-way contracts to fill with one spot filled currently by Edmond Sumner. Johnson could possibly fill that slot instead of an NBA roster spot as well.

The subtractions from the team include Lance Stephenson, Al Jefferson, Joe Young, and recently waived Alex Poythress.

Here’s a look at the projected starters and rotation as it stands today.

Point guard

  1. Darren Collison
  2. Cory Joseph
  3. Aaron Holiday

Shooting guard

  1. Victor Oladipo
  2. Tyreke Evans

Small forward

  1. Bojan Bogdanovic
  2. Doug McDermott

Power forward

  1. Thaddeus Young
  2. T.J. Leaf
  3. Alize Johnson

Center:

  1. Myles Turner
  2. Domantas Sabonis
  3. Kyle O’Quinn
  4. Ike Anigbogu

A lot less roster turnover than the last few years for the Pacers. The entire starting lineup looks like it’ll be back next season to see if they can pick up where they left off in a surprising campaign.

Kevin Pritchard and company added a lot of depth without losing many rotation players. Evans should give the team the secondary playmaker that it desperately needed last season, especially when Oladipo was out.

McDermott should back up Bogdanovic and be able to bring a lot of the same things to the court that he does.

O’Quinn should be a lot more playable than Jefferson was and be a valuable third center. It seems he may see a lot of time at power forward alongside Turner or Sabonis if McMillan goes that route. Leaf was expected to play minutes next season but his defense still is struggling against guys in the Summer League. He might already be penciling O’Quinn in as the second power forward.

McDermott with the Thunder and O’Quinn with the Magic are both former teammates of Oladipo and of each other with the Knicks and should be good additions to the team’s chemistry.

The rookies lay in waiting but may surprise if they get a chance to play this year. Holiday, as the third point guard, is much more likely to find time than Johnson.

One of the more exciting aspects of the roster that is filled with possibilities of different 5-man groupings to finish the game.

Evans and Oladipo will likely share the floor often this year at the end of games, especially if Evans shooting percentages continue to trend upward. Three guard lineups with three of Collison, Joseph, Oladipo and Evans are likely to find utility during the season as well.

Need a defensive point guard at the end of the game? Here comes Joseph. Want to go small and really space the floor? How about a lineup of DC/Vic/Tyreke/Bojan/Turner that’s filled with guys that can shoot the 3?

Domas Sabonis is always capable of finishing games as well. It will be interesting to see whether the team will have more success this year than last when Turner and Sabonis share the court, a key thing to watch for the team’s future.

It’ll be a fun challenge for Nate McMillan at the end of close games to figure out the right combinations every night depending on the matchup and whose playing well.

One spot remains open on the NBA roster (2 if the Pacers don’t guarantee Anigbogu’s contract later this month) but the Pacers can only offer minimum deals to anyone else looking to join the rising Eastern conference team. Ben Moore is one possibility currently with the team’s Summer League squad as well as for the team’s other 2-way contract. Poythress could still be in the mix and brought back as well or the Pacers could look to add a veteran similar to signing of Damien Wilkins last year.

Victor Oladipo sees the East as wide open, Pacers ready to do something special

Victor Oladipo is making his media rounds lately and appeared on ESPN’s morning show Get Up! to talk about a variety of topics including being traded twice, about the state of the Eastern Conference after LeBron James decided to go to Los Angeles and about that missed goaltending call in the playoffs.

Michelle Beadle, one of the hosts of the show, wanted to know what players in the East felt like when James, who has dominated the conference, decided to go to a Western Conference team.

“When I first heard about it, I was a little upset,” said Oladipo. “I like playing against the best player in the world and competing against him and seeing where you’re at.”

Despite Oladipo’s love of the competition, he does realize that this an opportunity for the team to take the next step.

Continue reading Victor Oladipo sees the East as wide open, Pacers ready to do something special

Nate McMillan’s advice to Victor Oladipo: Be an A******

Victor Oladipo appeared on Sirius XM NBA Radio and had a conversation with Justin Termine and Eddie Johnson today and shared his experience with Indiana Pacers Head Coach Nate McMillan.

“He was awesome,” said Oladipo when asked how good his coach was for him last year. “… He’s honest with me, but at the same time he holds me accountable, tells me what I need to do better.”

In one particular example, Oladipo said that after a road loss to the Detroit Pistons early in the season while they were watching film, Nate gave him some important advice.

“He said, ‘You want to be great?'” Oladipo said. “I said, ‘Of course.’ He was like, ‘Man, you got to become more of an a******. People got to hate being on the floor with you. People got to hate guarding you.'”

Continue reading Nate McMillan’s advice to Victor Oladipo: Be an A******

Victor Oladipo sees big things ahead for the Indiana Pacers, shares his pitch to free agents

Victor Oladipo might have won the Most Improved Player award this past season, but that doesn’t mean he’s done improving.

“I’m not satisfied by any means, so I got a lot of room for improvement,” said Oladipo to reporters at the Indiana Pacers practice facility today. “At the end of the day, that’s what I’m focused on doing: getting better.”

The Pacers All-Star and face of the franchise is confident in himself and his work ethic and the results that will come from his constant quest to raise his game.

“I’m going to take my game to the next level,” Oladipo told reporters. “I’m not going to (just) try.” He added, “I’ve got to go to another level every summer, because that’s what great players do.”

Continue reading Victor Oladipo sees big things ahead for the Indiana Pacers, shares his pitch to free agents

Victor Oladipo is officially the Most Improved Player in the NBA

Victor Oladipo has racked up the awards and honors for his breakout debut season with the Indiana Pacers. At the NBA Awards show, he earned his latest: The Most Improved Player.

Oladipo averaged career highs in nearly every category with the Pacers as he ascended to his All-Star status. He was also named to All-NBA Third Team and First-Team All Defense during the playoffs.

Oladipo received 99 of a possible 101 first-place votes for this award (Clint Capela and Spencer Dinwiddie each received one). Domantas Sabonis got a pair of second-place votes for Most Improved.

He’s the fifth Indiana Pacers player to win the award joining Jalen Rose, Jermaine O’Neal, Danny Granger and Paul George.

You can watch his acceptance speech here.

Continue reading Victor Oladipo is officially the Most Improved Player in the NBA

Myles Turner is putting in the work on his body with pictures to prove it

If you follow Myles Turner on Instagram, you’ve seen his workout, hot yoga, and kickboxing routines for weeks on his story posts.

Today, Turner took to Twitter to show how the transformation of his body is going.

The caption here that Turner knows he’s still got a lot of work to do is probably the most encouraging part of his efforts.

He was inspired by a teammate’s half-joking, half-serious “soft” comment last season and started playing more physical and looks to be adding strength to make that type of play even easier for him next season.

At this point last season, it was Victor Oladipo posting pictures like this, so don’t underestimate the power of transforming your body (though it’d probably be smart to not set expectations too high either). It looks like Turner is taking the cue from the team’s best player.

Victor Oladipo sings duet with Charles Barkley, talks Pacers on NBA on TNT

Victor Oladipo appeared on the NBA on TNT show as an analyst in place of Kenny Smith last night during the pre-game, halftime and post-game shows.

Oladipo discussed his breakout season with Indiana, the Pacers series with the Cavs, the Rockets/Warriors looming showdown (Dipo says Warriors in 7) and, in perhaps the most entertaining part of the night, sang a duet with Charles Barkley. The song choice was Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York.”

Continue reading Victor Oladipo sings duet with Charles Barkley, talks Pacers on NBA on TNT

It doesn’t matter what Paul George does. The Pacers won the trade.

Whether or not Paul George stays in Oklahoma City, the Indiana Pacers already won the last summer’s blockbuster trade.

George could stay as a member of the Thunder as their GM Sam Presti felt “really encouraged” by his dialogue with him (doesn’t that sound familiar, Indiana?). Or, he could do what everyone expects and leave for the Lakers or some other team in free agency. We’ve already heard the rumblings that he’s “gone” as ESPN radio host Ryen Russillo said recently, but it doesn’t matter which way he ends up going. The Pacers are better off now than they would have been by keeping George, even a version of himself that wanted to stay.

No one is making jokes about the Pacers anymore (shout-out to the OKC Police Department, ESPN’s Rachel Nichols, who has deleted a tweet from early in the season that included a video from The Jump where she said it was ludicrous to say the Pacers were better off without George, and countless others. The Pacers silenced the critics and proved everyone wrong.

“If you don’t respect the Indiana Pacers now,” Victor Oladipo told reporters after the series against Cleveland, “then I have no respect for you.”

Oladipo’s first season in Indiana was better than George’s final one (both by individual and team success) and he’s two years younger. Oladipo will likely make an All-NBA team and an All-Defensive team this season and the city of Indianapolis has embraced him more than it ever did George.

Continue reading It doesn’t matter what Paul George does. The Pacers won the trade.