Yesterday, Coach Frank Vogel announced that George Hill would replace Darren Collison as the starting point guard. Before tonight’s game, he announced another experiment with the rotation.
“One other change that we’re going to look at tonight,” Vogel said, ” and I haven’t made a final decision if this is going to be our playoff rotation – but we’re going to look at extending Paul George’s minutes with that second unit as well. Partially, because he’s a budding superstar, and partially because giving DC another guy out there he’s used to playing with will help the transition.
“So, Dahntay will be out of the rotation, unless we have foul trouble or a need. That will be for tonight, probably, then day-by-day for the next couple game to see where we’re at. Paul will play Dahntay’s normal minutes in the second quarter and the third quarter.”
This is the type of experimentation that makes sense given the Pacers’ current position in the standings. They are one win or one Atlanta loss away from locking up their best possible playoff seeding – third in the East. Given tonight – and the remaining two games – are all at home, the clinch feels likely.
On Thursday night, David West told me that it was his preference to play, but it wasn’t his decision. I followed up with Coach Vogel as to whether he’d rest players, and he was non-committal.
“When and if we clinch the third seed, I will talk to our guys and see what they want to do,” Vogel responded. He went on to say that he’d balance what he felt was best for the team with what they players feel is best for them. While some guys would certainly get some rest, Vogel seemed reticent to just shut things down.
“I don’t really feel comfortable with just going a full week without having played a real game with normal rotation,” Vogel finished his pre-game gaggle by opining.
And really, he doesn’t have to. The beauty of this Pacer roster is that they only have two players – Danny Granger and Darren Collison – who average over 30 minutes per night. Granger leads the team at just over 33 minutes, which is his lowest average since his rookie year. Meanwhile, there are six players averaging between 19 and 29 minutes a night.
Compared to most teams, coach Frank Vogel can rest his players simply by playing his normal rotation. That’s a credit both to him, and to Larry Bird’s job of putting this team together.