I’m not sure how much we can really take away from this game. It wasn’t pretty, for sure, but it’s hard to precisely pinpoint anything that the team did terribly wrong. Until December hits, I usually look for not just individual ruined possessions, blown defensive assignments or poor execution, but for things that might be larger trends that will become part of the season-long narrative.
Can’t say I saw much that qualifies last night.
This is in part because Indy was missing two rotation guys that we expect to see a lot of minutes this year. But it was also just one of those games: mundane, November fodder where the better team outclasses a weaker opponent.
So in lieu of anything cohesive, here’s a short list of thoughts/observations:
- The shot chart shows what was pretty obvious: the Hawks were on-point with their jumpers. Was this bad defense or just good shooting? Which came first, the chicken or the egg? It’s obviously a combo of both. Atlanta’s 50% shooting with this many jumpers perhaps speaks to just good shooting (as does its 53% shooting from behind the arc, where they knocked down 8 triples). Regardless, the silver lining is that the Pacers did protect the interior relatively well. On the flip side, when you are the home team and you outscore your opponent 38-20 in the paint, you should probably win.
- 16 turnovers is definitely too high but it’s not “you probably can’t win the game now” too high. When 16 turnovers lead to 23 points, however, it’s a different story. Tim Donahue mentioned to me that he’s not sure exactly what the normal ratio is leaguewide, but “that seems awfully high.” I have to agree.
- Josh Smith is a beast. Notes Tom Lewis of Indy Cornrows: “Smith’s six points late in the second quarter was a sign of things to come as the high-flying forward was too much for the Pacers to handle in the second half. Not only did Smith finish with 25 points and 8 rebounds, he also swatted 7 shots and altered a few more along the way.” It will be a sad day in February if he fails to be invited to the All-Star Game again.
- Roy Hibbert was uber-active on the glass, snatching a career-high 15 boards. It was a very encouraging sight. I think everyone was hoping that a slimmed down Hibbert could improve his as-yet-in-his-career terrible rebounding numbers. This, and a few other games earlier this year, provide a good indicator that a corner can be turned.
- The third quarter was disgusting. 6-for-16 as a team for just 16 points. It’s tough to beat bad teams when you string together that type of 12-minute stinkfest. Beating a team like ATL after doing so becomes a borderline Herculean task.
- There are plays, like the pass into the stands he made that looked more like an NFL punt, during which Brandon Rush looks like the worst player in the league.
- TJ Ford was really, really bad. Mike Bibby should probably not look that good. I’ll leave it at that out of respect for Ford’s family.
- That’s all I got. It wasn’t a particularly captivating contest.