Post-Game Grades: Pacers Smack Around the Cavs

This was my first chance to watch the Pacers so far this season and I think I got a pretty good feel for what the season is gonna be like. Two things jumped out at me.

First, this team revolves around Paul George (obviously), Roy Hibbert and Lance Stephenson. Those guys are the core of this team and will be for a good while.

Second, the bench. The reserve unit is going to be way better this year.

Lance looks so much improved from last season. There were hardly any points in the game where he was out of control, and when Danny Granger comes back there’s no reason Lance shouldn’t be up there in the conversation for 6th man of the year award.

C.J. Watson started this game in place of the injured George Hill (sore hip) and didn’t do anything spectacular — but also didn’t D.J. Augustin up the game. He should be solid backing up George Hill.

Luis Scola has also yet to show anything too flashy, but as the season goes on and he gets more comfortable with the Pacers he will prove to be a major improvement over Tyler Hansbrough.

As for the game itself, it was more or less an uninteresting matchup. The Pacers got off to a slow start, then took the lead with 4 minutes left in the first on a Paul George dunk and didn’t really look back from there. Both teams played sloppily throughout and shot poorly, but Indiana controlled the contest throughout.

The Cavs did manage to bring the game within 7 going into the fourth quarter, as neither team was able to do much in the third. But Indiana’s defense held Cleveland to 37 points in the second half, and Lance Stephenson caught fire at the right time to blow the game wide open. Ultimately, this was the Pacers beating a team that they should beat. To go 3-0.

Here is how each guy played individually tonight. Agree? Disagree? Express your thoughts below in the comments or yell at Jared (@8pts9secs) or Tim (@TimDonahue8p9s) on Twitter.

David West, PF 25 MIN | 2-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | +4Bad game offensively, don’t expect that to last. Defense looked great.
Paul George, SF 30 MIN | 8-17 FG | 2-2 FT | 13 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 21 PTS | +4This guy just keeps growing and growing, he used to be extremely hesitant shooting the ball, not he’s extremely aggressive from the start. Not sure there are 5 guys in the league I’d rather have on my team right now.
Roy Hibbert, C 28 MIN | 5-9 FG | 1-2 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 4 TO | 11 PTS | +4Was a big part of the game plan early which opened up other things for the Pacers. Didn’t notice him much in the 2nd half but the game was more or less over.
C.J. Watson, PG 31 MIN | 2-8 FG | 3-3 FT | 4 REB | 6 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 7 PTS | +3Missed some open 3s you would’ve liked him to make but he played 30 minutes, had 6 assists and no turnovers… I’ll take that every day of the week over DJ Augustin.
Lance Stephenson, SG 32 MIN | 7-13 FG | 3-5 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 22 PTS | +9Took over the game in the 4th. If his 3 point shooting is actually this much improved from last year he’s going to be a menace to deal with for opposing benches all year.

Luis Scola, PF 19 MIN | 2-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 4 PTS | +13Forgettable on offense but defense was much better than I expected.
Chris Copeland, SF 4 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -2Garbage time.
Solomon Hill, SF 9 MIN | 2-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | +4Got his first NBA bucket. This guy should be a good fit with the Pacers as a scrapper and little things guy.
Ian Mahinmi, C 20 MIN | 0-1 FG | 2-4 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 2 PTS | +11Did what we ask of our backup center. Protect the rim, grab rebounds and if you can get some points also, Bravo. If you can catch the ball, double Bravo.
Donald Sloan, PG 17 MIN | 1-3 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | +12Didn’t D.J. Augustin it up.
Orlando Johnson, SG 21 MIN | 2-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 7 PTS | +15Up and down night. Got dunked on by CJ Miles but helped Lance take over the game in the 4th.
Rasual Butler, SG 4 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | -2Garbage time.

Tags: Game Recap

  • wesmont

    I think Orlando J and CJ Wat deserve a better grade,especially CJ. 6 ast no turnovers,repeat 6 ast NO turnovers.This team is filled with players,it seems they all can contribute.Wonderful job whoever is responsible for putting this group together.

    • Realist

      His name is Larry.

  • Jack Wright

    Some things I’ve noticed so far this season:
    1. We’ve been much less reliant on David West than what was typical the past couple years. And a lot of that reliance has shifted to Paul George, who has been excellent to this point.
    2. Lance Stephenson is suddenly a 3-pt machine. And I don’t think it’s a fluke because I’m noticing a better stroke at the free-throw line too.
    3. Our bench can score the ball, at least when Lance is in the game. I’ve liked the rotation plan of taking Lance out a few minutes before the other starters and putting him back in with the bench unit. I’m pretty sure at this point that Lance is a major reason why the bench has looked this good. But Scola knocks down the jumper, OJ is a scorer, Mahinmi rebounds and defends down low.. And Lance brings it together with his speed, playmaking, 3-pt shooting and ability to get to the rim (and FINISH). My guess is that when Danny returns and is in good shape, Lance will come off the bench, but he’ll be in the game in the important 4th quarter minutes when we need our best guys in. He just makes that bench unit work in a way that I doubt Danny would be able to.

  • Derek Cooper

    As long as we’ve got larry playing basketball for us with his brain (in f.o. decisions) _and vogel here being a goodguy coach that the players want to play for_and our core guys+supporting cast keep focused_….we’re probably seeing some really good ball for years to come. Especially if you enjoy rooting for a small market team like I do this is good. _maybe basketball heaven?

  • Philip Tarrant

    Not sure how PG24 is graded below Lance. I guess it’s just curved to their current abilities? Either way, they both get A+’s in my book. PG looked like a superstar out there, like a young (taller) DWade.

  • djmcba

    Is it me or does it look like D.West isn’t as jacked as he was last season – like he has trimmed down a bit. Not sure if it has anything to do with his slow start this season but have been noticing he looks a little slimmer.

    Lance has been awesome – hope he doesn’t play his way out of our pocketbooks – though it is probably (definitely) too early to worry that after three games. Still, he’s playing like a tyreke evans/tony allen hybrid, and that ain’t no prius of a baller.

  • Realist

    Stein has us #1 in the power rankings. He picked us for the title too.

    • fakepoot

      he also re-negged on his way over the top assessment of the Nets

      love you steiny mo

  • Edi

    76ers,Pistons and Orlando the youngest team look very good so far.Oladipo already looks like the promising Superstar.76ers look like the very athletic,fast paced team its scary with tall PG Michael Carter-Williams,Young and Turner,question is can they do it all year long 82 games.Pistons upgraded a lot by bringing in Jennings,Smith and the underated veteran H.O.F leader C Billups….Knicks are the biggest disappointment so far maybe because those threes are not falling down that were last year,and maybe it has a lot to do because J.R. Smith is injured, 27th offense not good 3rd in defense very good.But Playoffs are another story and a different tune, Miami Heat are still team to beat, its going to be a great year of basketball

    • fakepoot

      what? knicks are a disappointment? everyone expects them to suck. 3rd in points allowed is not too impressive when 2/3 of the teams you play are the bulls and bucks.
      and since when is miami the team to beat? last year fine, this year they are showing their true colors early. lebron has already checked out like he did his last season in cleveland.

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