Spurs vs. Pacers Give and Go Preview
Apologies for the late preview, but we’re dragging a little behind from our turkey hangovers. I’m filling in for Andrew on today’s Give and Go, and today I invited Tom Lewis from Indy Cornrows to talk about the Pacers and tonight’s game:
Tom Lewis, Indy Cornrows: Hi Jesse, ready to go.
Jesse Blanchard, 48 Minutes of Hell: Alright, so let’s talk some Spurs-Pacers.
The Pacers were expected to build upon last year’s playoff performance, but have struggled out of the gate. What’s happened?
TL: The Pacers lost Danny Granger to injury and realized they have no one to lean on offensively. The defense has been solid, but making shots has been a real struggle. Key players, Paul George, Roy Hibbert and George Hill have been inconsistent.
JB: Is it the making shots or creating clean ones that have been the bigger struggle?
TL: Actually, both at different times. Although, I’d say opposing defenses have been happy with some of the open perimeter shots the Pacers have taken. Still, Hibbert in particular, until the past two games, has missed shots with in 10 feet of the bucket that weren’t altered, just missed. Shots he made consistently last season.
When things start going south on offense, though the Pacers seem to stop moving the ball or cutting to create better opportunities. That’s been an emphasis of Vogel’s the past week.
JB:You mentioned George Hill struggling on offense, and this has been the first year with him full-time at point guard–something I’m not sure I ever would have advocated in his time here in San Antonio–can you tell us a little bit about his struggles and development since manning the point full-time?
TL: He’s been more of an attacking pg as opposed to setting up teammates for plays. He’s had a big hand in the wins this season but went through a stretch earlier with turnovers. Hill gave Vogel input on changing up the offense to include more ball movement and cutting similar to what he enjoyed in SA. Worked great for the first game but they still have a ways to go offensively.
I’ve always thought of GH as a Jason Terry type of player because he can play either guard spot thanks to his crazy wingspan but for now, he’s running at point guard for lack of other options.
JB: Hill always struck me as the type of point guard that would fit better in a triangle-type offense–spotting up and reading the defense for driving and passing lanes rather than creating them himself. Not necessarily the triangle, just an offense based of reads he can make (high basketball IQ) more than create.
TL: Yeah, when things bog down and he has to create something while half his team is standing around it ain’t pretty.
JB: Two of the players that were supposed to be able to pick up the slack for Granger are West and Paul George. To start with George, can you tell us a little bit about his struggles moonlighting as a first option?
TL: PG has struggled shooting the ball and turning it over while trying to create. Now, he’s coming off of a 37-point game with 9 three-balls and zero turnovers, so there is hope, but he is one player who seems to have tried to pick up all of the slack for Granger. He just needs to play his game. George is now starting at small forward with Lance Stephenson starting so that gives him a break at the defensive end not having to chase two guards around.
JB: I imagine not seeing Kawhi Leonard or Stephen Jackson should help as well.
TL: Yes, missing Leonard and Jack should be a bonus for the Pacers, although they have a tendency to let such advantages slip away. Fortunately the opposing uniform won’t allow anyone to exhale.
JB: David West has always been a problem for the Spurs, especially in pick and pop situations.
TL: West has been a monster at times for the Pacers. He literally carried them down the stretch for wins at Toronto and Washington. Problem was the Pacers needed such heroics for wins at Toronto and Washington. West’s game is in far better shape than last season when he was coming off of a knee injury. I just don’t think the Pacers can expect West to carry the load every night. He’s had off nights and I’d say that is due to fatigue.
JB: So…I have to admit one of my favorite moments of the season has been Hibbert calling himself out in the media and then going out and backing it up. Thoughts? Do you think he’s working too hard to live up to his contract and do you expect it to ultimately be a good deal for the Pacers?
TL: I think Hibbert will be fine. He’s been a 12 and 9 guy in the past and right now he’s just not scoring. He needs to get that up to 15-17 and 9 and he’ll make a big impact. He’s been real good at the defensive end this year which often goes unnoticed with all of the glaring missed shots. He’s a player that has always put pressure on himself to perform, not he’s just going to hear it from fans and media because of his contract. I think he’ll always be overpaid because that is the nature of the beast with a max contract, but he should still be a positive force for the Pacers in the middle.
JB: More summer sessions with Tim Duncan wouldn’t hurt either. Alright, before we wrap things up can I get a random prediction for tonight? Nothing to do with the final score.
TL: Gerald Green will do something that makes you think, What tha..? Green hasn’t been great this season but has played better at home than on the road which usually means he gets eye-high with the rim at least once during a game at the Fieldhouse.
JB: Thanks, I look forward to that highlight.