Saturday, the Indiana Pacers welcomed the 2008 NBA Champions to Conseco Fieldhouse for what is always a thriller. Boston, Cleveland are L.A. are always attract even more fans because of the opposing team’s stars. The Pacers faced the “Big Three” of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen and disposed of them 113-104 in front of an announced sellout.
What I Like Thus Far…
- Danny Granger’s leadership and on-court presence has continued to impress. He is clearly the face of this young squad, looking to establish themselves as a competitive team. He finished with 29 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists against a very talented Celtics club. I don’t make anything of Granger not talking with the meeting after their 3rd loss in a row…they sure regrouped well huh.
- Roy Hibbert has been a force inside. The Pacers have truly lacked a quality center the last 5 or so years. Hibbert is making his minutes count and not fouling near as much. He has 3 double-doubles and has come very close to a couple more. He worked very hard in the offseason and I think it has been evident thus far.
- Dahntay Jones has been a tremendous influence. Against the Celtics, Pacers fans were finally able to appreciate the offseason pickup made by Larry Bird. He is known for his defense, but Boston was unsure how to play him offensively as he exploded for 25 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists. He will be a 15 and 4 player whose primary responsibility is guarding the opponents best player.
- Hansbrough has made his minutes count. While still recovering from an offseason shin injury, Hansbrough has been very effective in his limited minutes. O’Brien is keeping the rookie to about 15 minutes per game; however that is not stopping him from being productive. He continues to be a powerful force inside willing to give up his body and battle for the loose balls.
What they still lack…
- What the team lacks is a sidekick to Granger. The Pacers need another go-to player and one that can take the load off Granger…that may have to wait until the 2011 offseason.
- Injuries, injuries, injuries. When will team ever be healthy? Dunleavy, Murphy, and Foster are all out with injuries and unsure of their return. Diener, Ford, Hansbrough are battling tough injuries and slowly recovering. Ford I suspect, will be an ongoing problem with his back, that’s just how it is. This Pacers team would go to a completely different level if they ever get healthy.
- Attitude is always an important trait to look at. Hibbert and Jones appear to have the right attitude whether the team is up or down. Those two were the ones encouraging others to play harder and keep their head up when they lost 3 in a row. And they continue to be the ones cheering on the bench and supporting their teammates all the time. Especially impressive for 2nd-year player Roy Hibbert. Remember you can’t get too high, and you can’t get too low.
- Mike Dunleavy practiced for the first time this season on Friday; however still no clear indication on when he might return
- Former Pacers PG Jamaal Tinsley has signed with the Memphis Grizzlies…probably a good fit for him. Just wish the Pacers could get something in return after paying him 3 years/$21 million to sit at home in Atlanta.