The 3 Point Slinging Indiana Pacers

Apr 5, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers fan holds up a sign welcoming back Pacers forward Paul George (13) during a game against the Miami Heat at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 5, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers fan holds up a sign welcoming back Pacers forward Paul George (13) during a game against the Miami Heat at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports /

The Indiana Pacers went 3-2 in Week 23 (3/29-4/5), beating the Dallas Mavericks to begin the week before dropping 2 straight crucial contests to the Boston Celtics and the New Jersey Nets on back to back nights.

The blue and gold followed those heartbreaking losses with blowout wins against the Charlotte Hornets and the Miami Heat to cap the week. The Pacers lost some ground in the race for the 7th and 8th seeds in the East, but are still in the hunt, if severely disadvantaged. The Miami game also saw the long anticipated return of Paul George, to a thunderous ovation at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse.

Let’s take a look at what we learned about the Indiana Pacers in week 23!

Paul George Returns

Paul George missed the first 76 games of the season after fracturing his leg playing in a scrimmage for Team USA. Most everyone has seen the video, but for those that haven’t, I don’t recommend it. It was a brutal injury to a guy just reaching his highest heights, and heartbreaking for fans, teammates, and opposing players alike.

Against the Miami Heat, PG finally got to begin putting that all behind him and debuted his new number 13. Players around the NBA reacted with excitement to his return, as did the fans at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse.

George played a shade under 15 minutes in his debut, and frankly probably exceeded most people’s expectations with his production. He came out gunning, shot 5-of-12 from the field and 3-of-6 from deep. He’s certainly still not 100% his old self; he blew an easy fast break layup/dunk, and just seemed to freeze while leading another fast break leading to an offensive foul, but the Pacers truly seemed to be a different team once he hit the court, running the Heat of the building for the rest of the contest.

George is on no medical minutes restriction at this point, but it would seem unlikely he’s just going to jump back into the starting lineup/35 minutes a night role; it’s far more likely he’ll come off the bench (at least for a while) and see 20-25 minutes a game.

Should the Pacers sneak into the playoffs, it’s possible he could try to take on a larger role, but with only 5 games remaining in the season, it’s not likely he’ll be a major minutes guy unless that happens.

The Indiana Pacers: 3-Point Gunners

Now THERE’S a headline I never thought I’d see in an article written about the Pacers.

In the last 5 games, the Pacers have put up 103 triples, making 48 of them, for a blistering 46.6% from deep.

  • Damo Rudez is the number one three point shooter in the association since January 25th, and hit 8-of-9 over the 5 game stretch.
  • C.J. Miles hit 12-of-24, and missed almost the entirety of the contest against the Nets.
  • Solomon Hill, not a renowned shooter by any means, hit 7-of-15 during the same stretch.
  • George Hill was 9-of-20.

It’s unlikely the Pacers can keep up this blistering pace, but it’s been fun to watch, and I can’t remember the last time I saw a Pacers TEAM get collectively hot from behind the arc.

Roy Hibbert is Struggling at an Inopportune Time

Roy Hibbert’s offensive struggles are not new to any seasoned Pacers fan; Hibbert has been an on-again, off-again (usually off) player on the offensive end throughout his career. This past week was no different.

Despite a solid showing against Tyson Chandler and the Mavs (5-of-10 shooting, 4-of-4 from the charity stripe), Hibbert only shot 33% from the field for the week, putting up several poor performances in a row. He also uncharacteristically struggled from the charity stripe, shooting only 64.3% on 14 attempts after breaking a long streak of consecutive makes.

Hibbert often has weeks like this, and his defense was as solid as it typically is (1.6 blocks per game), but the Pacers may need more. They don’t need him to necessarily up his volume, but may require a more efficient performance from the big fella in order to sneak into the playoffs.

The Pacers Playoff Hopes are on Life Support

The Pacers no longer control their own playoff destiny. The blue and gold are currently in 9th place, trailing Boston by a game, and Brooklyn by 1.5, but don’t hold the tiebreaker against either team, meaning they have to have a better record rather than tying (the losses to Boston and New Jersey last week really put the Pacers in a bind).

The Pacers have to finish the season strong and hope that Boston and/or New Jersey drop enough games to be surpassed in the standings. The picture is bleak, but certainly not impossible, as the Pacers have the easiest remaining schedule of the 3 (using strength of schedule to measure).

The Injury Bug Still has not Left This Team

C.J. Watson missed the Miami Heat game with elbow soreness in his right (shooting) elbow, after looking positively fantastic the past few games. Rodney Stuckey left the game after taking a hard fall and catching himself (and all of his body weight) on his already sore right wrist.

The hits just keep on coming for this Pacers squad, but with Paul George’s return and some solid minutes from the Donfather Donald Sloan, they might be able to weather this latest storm.

The Indiana Pacers Week Ahead

Games: at New York Knicks (4/8), at Detroit Pistons (4/10)

Prediction: While it is terrifying to predict this Pacers team to win 2 straight away from home, my prediction is that the Indiana Pacers go 2-0, beating the hapless Knicks and struggling Pistons on the road

Last Week’s Prediction Results: 3-1

Season Long Prediction Results:  46-27

What to Watch For: Rodney Stuckey and C.J. Watson, both nursing reportedly minor injuries… Paul George, looking to knock the rust off, likely 15 minutes at a time… Scoreboard watching; rooting against the Celtics and Nets like Bill Belicheck was coaching them… The Pacers, likely to run out of luck from deep eventually… The Pacers bigs rotation, going from 4 to 5 deep as Lavoy Allen starts to eat some of Ian Mahinmi and Roy Hibbert’s minutes… Damo Rudez, looking like the odd man out with PG returning… Chris Copeland, likely to be in street clothes on game day soon… Ian Mahinmi, continuing to spiral down from the FT line… The Pacers, probably needing to win out or close to have a chance to delay vacation …

Next: Damjan Rudez Has Been the NBA's Best 3-Point Shooter Since January 25th

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