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Why Pacers Fans Shouldn't Worry About the Late Scoring Drought in Game 1

The Pacers didn’t score a single point in the final 4:05 of their game one loss to the Magic on Saturday night. That is deplorable. How can a 3-seed with two big guys who should easily over-power the Magic’s front line not put in even one bucket? How do athletes like Danny Granger and Paul George not find a way to get a hoop? What was Darren Collison doing out there? Most critically, how can a team without a “go-to guy” who can will in a shot expect to even make it to the second round, let along threaten a giant like the Miami Heat?

These questions are seemingly valid. But they’re really not.

Yes, the end of the game was abysmal in terms of production. But aside from the questionable long two-pointer by Collison on the team’s second to last possession and the two bonehead violations by Granger (one being a travel on the team’s final possession), it really wasn’t bad at all. Process-wise, the team got good shots. The offense was composed, aside from the brain farts, and the lack of scoring was almost entirely due to missing shots as opposed to being unable to find flaws in the Orlando defense.

Let’s go to the tape.

Tyler Hansbrough Jumper Out of the Pick-and-Pop (make)

The first of multiple good screen/rolls run by Collison in the quarter.

Tyler Hansbrough Layup in the Two-Man Game (make)

Really nice down-screen action here by Tyler to free up Paul George, who quickly reads the defense and finds Hansbrough in a place to score.

David West Jumper, David West Look in the Paint (miss, make)

High pick-and-roll play here by Collison/Tyler leads to DC finding West wide open on the baseline after the defense rotates. David can’t knock it down but the Pacers get the board. They re-set and go right back to the Collison-led pick-and-roll, this time with West, who pops to the top of the key and gets the dish. He has a lot of room to operate and makes a measured attack into the paint for a bucket.

David West Drive, Pull-Up Out of the Pick-and-Roll (make)

Another West pick at the top of the key for the ball-hander, who is Paul George this time. West slips the screen here though and drifts into space to catch the pass. He pump fakes and heads towards to block, where he pulls up and drills a short jumper over guys too short/bad/slow to even challenge his shot.

Tyler Hansbrough Gets a Good Look in the Paint (miss)

Really creative pass here by Collison, who finds Tyler with a little over the top lob into space after forcing the defense to react to his penetration. Hansbrough really needs to finish this. He gets blocked though. By Big Baby.

Paul George Duck In Bucket at the Hoop (make)

This is a really good cut by Paul George. He basically foreshadows what is to come by missing the first attempt, but he gets the tip in after a nice set that features Roy Hibbert as the facilitator from the mid-range. Excellent look by Hibbert and a good example of both the “random duck ins” that Frank Vogel mentioned were key before game one and Stan Van Gundy’s fear that Indiana can post up Orlando at positions “two through five.”

Hibbert Deep Position Hook Shot (miss)

A key to the series is getting the big fella deep position to exploit the small Magic front court. They didn’t do so nearly enough throughout the game. But they did here and Hibbert got a great look that he makes 8 out of 10 times. He just blew the finish. Good offense though.

Darren Collison Mid-Range Jumper Off a Pick-and-Roll With David West (make)

Indiana’s last points of the game game off of what was go-to play in late-game situations early in the year: a Collison/West side pick-and-roll. Here, West manages to stymy both defenders and DC is able to just dribble over into space and hit the wide-open jumper.

Danny Granger Back-Court Violation (turnover)

There is no excuse for this. We raked him over the coals for it yesterday. Notice, however, how Hibbert is just loafing around with his back turned to the ball. That’s not a pick-and-roll or a pick-and-pop. Pick-and-meander more like.

Granger Backs Down Nelson, Splits a Double on the Block (miss)

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this. The Pacers exploit a mismatch and Granger puts Jameer Nelson into full-on “mouse in the house” panic mode. The double comes but Danny does a great job splitting it to create an excellent shot near the hoop. He just blew it.

West Creates In an Iso After a Pick-and-Roll, Paul George Misses a Trey (miss, miss)

West gets the ball in face-up position from 17 feet against a defense on its heels. He attacks and gets a really good shot near the hoop. He misses. Hibbert taps out the board and Indiana passes it around until Paul George gets a wide-open three-pointer from the wing. He misses. Two shots any coach would like to have though.

Paul George Gets a Wide-Open Three Out of a West Post-Up (miss)

George tries to redeem his recent miss from behind the arc. He doesn’t. Nice look again. And yet another play good made by West with the drive/kick out. Earlier in the period, while turning the ball over, he looked tentative to assert himself. Here, and on the shot before, it looked more like he just missed. George made a few nice reads with his passing game earlier, but missing two open threes and throwing one ball away in the fourth is really ugly stuff, especially when you remember that he was “guarding” Jason Richardson on the other end as J-Rich stuck two threes that basically won the game for Orlando. Not the type of quarter you want, production or potentially confidence-deflating-wise, from the young guard.

Collison Misses Baseline Jumper, Granger Gets to the Line (miss, foul, misses FTs)

This possession features a little more iso and scrambling then you would like but Granger does a good job making something happen. After a nice move, he finds DC in the corner for a pretty decent look. Collison misses. Pacers get the board though and Granger draws a foul. Unfortunately for Indiana, he bricked both freebies.

Granger Posts Up Hedo Turkoglu (miss)

This possession takes some time to get going but the Pacers eventually get Granger the ball isolated with Hedo Turkoglu on the wing. He backs down Hedo and makes a really nice spin baseline to get a should-be easy two. But, stop me if you’ve heard this before, he misses.

Darren Collison Takes a Dumb Shot (miss)

There’s no defending this one. The team is down 3 and runs no semblance of a play. Guys are moving around but even if something was going to develop it was going to take a while. No matter because Collison has no patience for that anyway. On a possession where the team needs a 3 or a quick 2, he gets a mismatch against a bigger defender and … pulls up for a long two. High-risk, no reward. He misses.

Granger Travels, Makes Naismith Roll Over in His Grave (turnover)

Like we saw all last year in the Pacers series against the Bulls, the Pacers needed to create offense late in the game and they threw up all over themselves. Granger has no business being the guy you give the ball and clear out for. In this specific scenario, when you need somebody to just launch a desperation three in hopes of tying, it’s marginally acceptable to ask him to create, but it’s just not something he is good at. He proves that forever and ever by traveling embarrassingly here.

Looking just at this play and the Collison poor decision that preceded it, it would be easy to just call this de ja vu. Against the Bulls, however, the Pacers competed for 44 minutes and then could not get any offense of any kind down the stretch for possession upon possession upon possession upon possession.

That’s not what happened in game one. They didn’t score for more than four minutes, yes, but the offense was generally run well and producing makable shots. That’s what an offense is supposed to do. You cannot just let the players off the hook for missing shots that they should make, but they were literally in the position to win.

And of course the horrible, inexcusable, panicked plays on the final two possessions are worrisome. But that was hopefully more a product of game-one jitters than some deep-seeded psychological flaw that nobody on the roster will be able to overcome. The team generally ran the offense fine. Throughout the fourth quarter, they got good looks at the hoop on basically every possession where they didn’t do something particularly dumb. That would seem to be more sustainable than it would be for the Magic to continue to presume the Pacers will miss so many easy shots and commit superiorly dimwitted mistakes.

Tags: 2012 Playoffs

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