Scouting Report: Indiana Pacers
The Indiana Pacers will be good again this season.
The team that pushed Miami to a seventh game in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals returns all five starters from a year ago and bolstered their bench this offseason.
The familiar faces are back. Roy Hibbert protects the rim as well as any center in the NBA, and though he’s struggled shooting in the preseason, he’s a threat to score if he catches low enough on the block. David West, the big power forward, is their bruiser. The matchup with Paul Millsap should be fun because the two have such similar playing styles. Both guys like to get physical and pound the ball underneath. It should be a fun matchup.
In the backcourt, rapidly improving point guard George Hill runs the show. Relatively unknown until last season, Hill averaged 15 points per game during the Pacers’ playoff run. Hill has played a lot this preseason but his shooting less as Training Camp goes on. In 21 minutes against Cleveland Saturday, he attempted just one shot. Defensively, he had trouble staying in front of Jeff Teague at times in last year’s playoffs, so we’ll see if the Hawks can expose that matchup.
All-Star Paul George is the go-to man on offense. Last year’s most improved player looks to build on a career year, but this time he’ll be matched up with DeMarre Carroll. Though he still got his points, George was much less effective when the Hawks went to a bigger lineup last season, and Carroll provides the kind of physical presence that could disrupt him.
Lance Stephenson rounds out the starting group, though the Pacers do have a dilemma with former All-Star Danny Granger returning from an injury that sidelined him all of last season. Granger played a lot during Indiana’s trip to Taiwan and the Philippines last week but only played 24 minutes over the past two games. We’ll see how his presence impacts coach Frank Vogel’s rotation.
After the Pacers’ bench was exposed last season, the team set out to polish it this offseason and did so in a big way, signing forwards Luis Scola from Phoenix and Chris Copeland from New York. They also signed C.J. Watson, who played in 80 of Brooklyn’s 82 games last season.
All in all, the Pacers got better, and the Hawks will have their hands full with yet another good defensive team.
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