The Pacers need Myles Turner to step up offensively

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 14: Myles Turner #33 of the Indiana Pacers goes up for a dunk against the Boston Celtics during Game One of Round One of the 2019 NBA Playoffs on April 14, 2019 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 14: Myles Turner #33 of the Indiana Pacers goes up for a dunk against the Boston Celtics during Game One of Round One of the 2019 NBA Playoffs on April 14, 2019 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images) /

If the Indiana Pacers want to take down the Boston Celtics, they’ll need Myles Turner to step up in Game 2.

Myles Turner already justified his contract extension by putting himself in the Defensive Player of the Year conversation. As far as bang for your buck goes, the Indiana Pacers have one of the best defenders in the NBA, that’s worth the $18 million a year he’s owed in upcoming seasons.

But if the Pacers want to do more than serve as a speedbump to the Boston Celtics, Turner must be more than merely a great defender. Indiana needs him to step up his offense. The whole team needs to after Game 1, but this is more of a long-term issue for Turner.

13.3 points and 7.2 rebounds a game this season are fine enough for him, but they won’t be enough to beat the Celtics, especially if they continue to shut down Bojan Bogdanovic.

Let’s not confuse this with thinking Turner is in some way a drag on the Pacers. His offense is fine. He makes nearly half his shots and 38.8% of his 3-pointers. Outside of his average rebounding, there are few consistent complaints about his game.

Still, you are left wanting more. The potential Turner showed his second season where he averaged 14.5 points and 7.3 rebounds a game had Pacers fans and experts alike projecting him as a future All-Star if he grew from there.

He then followed that season with a more disappointing — statistically and overall impact — third year. Turner’s field goal percentage dropped as his game regressed. The defensive impact was slightly diminished, but still something he could hang his hat on.

This year, his offense is more in line with his sophomore season, and his defense is truly elite. For all the worrying about if we’d overthought our early projections for him, the growth in his game assuaged fears of him being average overall — or worse.

The Pacers need more from Myles Turner

But on a team without Victor Oladipo (or with him), being average offensively isn’t enough. It may not be Turner’s fault directly that Bogdanovic and other Pacers are struggling, but he isn’t taking more shots than usual when the Pacers face Boston.

That’s an issue because of his above average stats against the Celtics.14 points on 51.9% shooting from the field and 62.5% from deep over three games feel like something the Pacers would like more of. Slightly better than his averages, but certainly a sign that there something he can exploit when Indiana faces Boston.

It’s not as easy as Turner just shooting more shots. The Celtics have gotten what they want against Indiana by forcing the ball to Thaddeus Young and Tyreke Evans the most. With both of them shooting 41.3% in the regular season, Boston can live with that math.

But that doesn’t absolve Turner. He’s often OK with letting the ball come to him instead of calling for it. That’s noble in many situations, but when the offense stagnates, he can’t keep waiting.

FInding opportunities for Myles Turner

Attacking the glass isn’t really his thing, but he is getting more passes from Bogdanovic in these games thanks to the way the Celtics hound the Pacers leading scorer. It’s up to Myles to convert more of the opportunities into shooting chances when Boston gives him room to work..

He can’t just fling them, but we saw when the Pacers played the Milwaukee Bucks how when Myles shot around 20 times in two of those games and ended up with 20+ points.

Indiana may need to get away from the pick and roll for this to happen or use Thaddeus Young as the screener instead. If Young is the pick and pop option, that’s a better use of him than as a potential shooter. Even if Indiana doesn’t get the ball to Turner in this case, Myles will do more to stretch the floor than Thaddeus can.

But if Turner can get the ball in situations like this, it’s up to him to step up and take the shot if the Celtics give him the room.

In some ways, it is unfair to ask a center to take and make more shots. Bigs are dependent on their teammates to set them up. The Pacers need to scheme more opportunities for Turner so he can seize them. We’ve seen before that shooting more doesn’t have a detrimental effect on his overall numbers. Creating and then taking those opportunities is the harder part.

One way or another, though, Turner can’t be as passive offensively as he often is. Indiana must find ways to make sure the Celtics don’t get their way by letting Evans and Young shoot more. Turner is the perfect candidate for who should be taking shots if Bogdanovic isn’t.

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And if Turner hits those shots, then the Pacers can get Bogdanovic out of jail. If they do that, they might win a few games in this series.