The Indiana Pacers embarked on their second and final Western Conference journey Sunday to face five teams in eight days. Golden State was the first opponent on Monday night, and Indiana escaped with an eight-point win.
That Warriors team has had some familiar faces for the majority of 2+ seasons, providing the Pacers players and coaches with film and, thus, a better understanding of what Golden State is capable of. The same can be said for three of the remaining four teams the Indiana Pacers will face before returning to Indianapolis early on January 29.
The Sacramento Kings, Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Lakers also have players that have worn the same uniform for multiple seasons with their respected ball clubs. Again, film is valuable.
However, one team stands out on this trip: the Phoenix Suns (23-17). They have a new head coach in Jeff Hornacek, whom is trying to lead a group of young players to a winning record and a potential playoff berth in the Western Conference.
Goran Dragic is their best player in his fifth season from Slovenia. Dragic averages 19.4 points to go with six assists per game. Outside of Dragic, the Suns are very young with three rookies (Archie Goodwin, Dionte Christmas and Alex Len), two sophomore players (Miles Plumlee and Viacheslav Kravtsov), three third-year guys (P.J. Tucker, Marcus Morris and Markieff Morris) and two fourth-year players in Eric Bledsoe and Ish Smith. A total of ten players have 3.5 years of experience or less in the NBA.
Only four players on the Suns roster have six years experience or more playing in the NBA. Two of those guys, Leandro Barbosa and Gerald Green, have been in and out of the league over the past few seasons because of consistency issues on the floor.
For the Indiana Pacers, studying film is key, but a lack of familiarity with this Phoenix teams makes them more difficult to prepare for. It helps that Green and Plumlee played for Indiana a season ago, but they’re in a new system now under Hornacek and beginning to develop solid numbers in the starting lineup.
The Pacers must be ready for an up-tempo basketball game, similar to what Golden State and many other teams in the west prefer.
Topics: Indiana Pacers