I feel sort of like Michael Jordan when he got up to give his Hall of Fame induction speech.
I told all my friends myself I was just gonna walk up here and post a link to yesterday’s recap and walk off.
There’s no way.
I got so many people I can … … give a wag of the finger to. (I’ll let you guess which one.)
Look. I’ve played the “It’s early card” as long as I can. I’ve been diplomatic. I’ve tried to give the injured guys time to reintegrate into the lineup and the new guys time to pick up the schemes. I’ve held back any major lambasting of this team’s ineptness until November was over.
But we’re now more than 1/5th of the way through this season. And this is getting beyond absurd.
An offense that plays this fast cannot be this bad. Honestly, no offense can be this bad. But if you’re constantly pushing the tempo and, theoretically, shooting early in the shot clock before the defense is set, you just cannot possibly be this inept.
Yet outside of the opening day loss to Atlanta, the upset over Boston, the loss in Toronto and the loss in Sacramento, the offensive production has been bad all year — and, really, only the Celtics and Raptors games could be considered good scoring nights. We could run down all the stats and figures that illustrate just how badly the team has played on the offensive end, but the simple fact is that this team has shot horribly, turned the ball over constantly and rarely gotten any offensive rebounds.
And if things don’t change before too much longer — something that will be increasingly difficult to believe is possible the longer Danny’s heel injury keeps him from playing effectively, or at all — it isn’t out of the question that Larry Bird will begin a second stint coaching this team at some point this season.
But enough generalizing; let’s get into specifics from last night
- Danny Granger left the game with what is being called a “bruised right heel,” which is a re-aggravation of an injury that has been bothering him since preseason. MRI results are pending, but even though the Pacers don’t play again until next Wednesday against Portland, I would personally be surprised to see him play for at least a week and perhaps longer. That’s just pure speculation, but considering he has been nursing a gimpy knee as well, it would make sense to try to give him some rest. Meanwhile, I don’t even want to think about what would happen to this Pacers offense if this kept him out for, say, ten games. Although, really, it can’t possibly get much worse anyway, and it’s not like Granger has been particularly great so far this year anyway despite what PPG and talking heads on TV might tell you. It might actually be interesting to see what will happen if the guy who is using roughly a quarter of the team’s possessions — many of which he uses to launch the 9 threes per game he is throwing up per game — sits out for a few. I’m sure it won’t be good. But it will at least be different. And, at this point, I’d be willing to try even going literally four on five for a quarter just to see if that would be any worse. One of those morbid curiosity things, ya know.
- Perhaps the only thing more staggeringly bad than shooting 37.5% from the field is losing to a team that shot 34.9% from the field. Just … wow, guys. That’s special, special work. Seriously, don’t take my word for it; let’s go to the stats. So far this season, 12 teams have shot below 35% from the floor in a game. Of those 12, only one has prevailed — and that was the Bobcats beating the Nets despite shooting an unholy 32.4%. If we go back even further, it gets worse. Since the 1999-2000 season, precisely 900 teams have shot 35% or lower. Only 69 of those have won. That means that a team shooting 35% of lower has only a 7.7% chance of winning an NBA game. So let’s all congratulate the Clippers on becoming the 901st team of the decade to shot below 35% in a game and becoming only the 70th team to win when doing so in a league where 30 teams each play 82 games per season. That’s rarefied air, my friends. Pacers fans should probably just feel honored to be a part of such an exclusive club more than anything.
- You would think a team that missed 45 shots would be able to manage more than 4 offensive rebounds. As a rule, a team should get at least one offensive rebound for every four shots it misses, and the Pacers have been fairly close to that so far this season (although, technically, they have averaged a rather sub-par 23.8%). Tonight, however, they got less than 10% of their own misses. That’s really, really bad. By contrast, the Clippers hauled in 19 of their own 54 misses, or 35.2% of the potential offensive rebounds available (something that goes to show that the Pacers rebounded poorly on both sides of the floor, which I guess at least makes them consistent). In related news, Roy and Tyler managed only a combined 6 rebounds (both offensive and defensive) in 46 combined minutes, while Jeff Foster, who headed back to the locker room during the second half after getting smacked in the nose and reportedly looking “wobbly” on the way according to sideline reporter Stacey Paetz, only managed 1 board in 12 minutes. A little different from his 19-board effort the other night. Troy Murphy was the lone semi-bright spot in this area, grabbing 9 boards in 38 minutes and recording a team-“high” 2 offensive rebounds. Still, given the 99 total misses FGs between both teams in this game, 9 rebounds is hardly worth even a golf clap. Hell, Marcus Camby’s 17 boards in this type of game isn’t really even worth getting all that excited about, if we’re being honest.
- TJ Ford went 0/2 last night with … wait for it … 0 points. Silver lining: It only took him 18 minutes to score the same null set that it took me to score. From my couch. While eating pizza. This showing, combined with his 0/4 in Sacramento two games back, means that the Pacers starting point guard has now scored 0 points in two of his last three games. I’m not a mathematician, but that sounds low to me. He also missed yet another three-pointer, continuing his 0-for-the-season streak from three-point land. The last time he made a three was March 28. I’m almost hoping he doesn’t make another one this calendar year just so I’ll have to start putting a “2009” next to that date. And since he’s just about due for an injury that will keep him out for a week or two, it seems fairly likely. (If you can’t tell, I’ve been very impressed with TJ’s play so far this year. It’s been just a treasure to watch. He’s been delightful. And remember, folks, he’s one of the Eastern Conference guards on your All-Star Ballot. He’s averaging 9.6 ppg with 2.9 apg, guys. What’s not to like? I’m just gonna keep going until I’m sure you all get this sarcasm. Is that everybody? Ok. Good.)
- Roy Hibbert actually played pretty good on the block. He still scares me whenever he gets the ball at the high post, but even from there he had a few decent passes that helped facilitate some offensive movement, which at least offset all the other times when he held the ball without purpose or the threat of scoring for several seconds while the shot clock wound down. But his turnaround hook looked good even from an extended range, and he was able to establish deep position several times. These are both very good things.
- Mike Dunleavy, Jr. didn’t help the offense much at all. In past games, even in limited minutes, his ball rotation, spacing, cutting and passing visibly have helped create movement among the other players and forced the defense to react and rotate. Very little of that happened against the Clippers.
- Brandon Rush made two shots but he was still little more than worthless on offense, per usual. It feels like the Pacers are trying to kill a power play whenever he is on the court.
- Earl Watson seemed to spark a little life out there, and I imagine some people will point out the usefulness of his 9 assists. I’ll just point out his 2/11 shooting and move on with my life. He didn’t do a ton of great stuff out there aside from the few times that he was able to push the ball in transition, which I will admit was an admirable attempt to at least get some sort of high-percentage attack going towards the basket. That tear drop bank-shot was sorta cool, I suppose.
- The box score says that Dahntay Jones played 32 minutes, and I presume he spent about half that time on offense. News to me.
- Danny wasn’t even good when he was playing, although he did manage one nice dunk along with one nice post-up where he got fouled and a couple of mostly unsuccessful drives towards the hoop.
- The one aspect of the Pacers offense this year that has generally been good is its ability to get players to the line. Not last night. They only took 19 free throws and nobody went more than 4 times. That’s just a lack of aggression, which is always bad but particularly condemnable on a night where no one can make a jumper. I swear that some of the players on this team think that the paint is made of lava.
- Seriously, Jim O’Brien, you need to find some way to put some points on the board.