These Indiana Pacers can have noticeable ancillary impact
Set as the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference NBA Playoffs and ready to play the Miami Heat, the Indiana Pacers will need more of their rotation players to step up if they want to advance past the first round this year.
With Victor Oladipo still working his way back to All-Star level basketball, guys like T.J. Warren and Malcolm Brogdon have shown out during these seeding games, however, the starters will need more help from their second unit.
Among those who can help out, Edmond Sumner and Doug McDermott can provide a much-needed spark off the bench and help be big contributors to the success of the second unit.
Indiana Pacers: Edmond Sumner’s playoff impact
After playing great basketball during the seeding games, third-year player Edmond Sumner has earned a spot off the bench, according to Nate McMillan (as reported by Tony East).
While having limited playing time this year, and dealing with a hand injury that kept him sidelined for two or more weeks, Sumner proved he can handle more minutes during these eight seeding games and will get another chance to prove himself this week.
In his last two games, Sumner logged 17 points and 6 assists vs the Houston Rockets while shooting 54.5 percent from the field. He followed that with a 7 point, 6 assist performance vs Miami on Friday.
Sumner’s advantage is his quickness and he’s a great finisher around the rim, therefore getting him looks in transition can be a huge energy boost for a team with no fans in attendance during the playoffs.
He’ll have to be aggressive but also smart with his minutes, as any errors made have much bigger consequences in the playoffs, especially for a young guy trying to prove himself.
Indiana Pacers: Team needs Doug McDermott on offense
Another player to keep an eye on is Doug McDermott. Although he has had some struggles since the return of the NBA, his proven ability to shoot the ball (leads the Pacers in 3P% with 43.5 percent) at a high level is something this pacers team will desperately need going against Miami.
With guys like Duncan Robinson and Jae Crowder shooting incredibly well, Indiana needs a way to fight back with their second unit. Robinson has made 42.9 percent of his attempted threes since entering the bubble, Crowder 56.4 percent.
A big reason for McDermott’s lack of shooting since the restart has been that his primary offensive creator, Domantas Sabonis, has been out with Plantar Fascitis, making it much harder for McDermott to get good looks off of dribble hand-offs with Sabonis. McDermott and Sabonis have the team’s best two-man offensive rating at 113.2.
Although he does have sneaky-good athleticism, this adjustment has been tough. Prior to the NBA bubble, McDermott was top five in the NBA for 3-point percentage which elevated the Pacers’ second unit drastically.
However, after struggling through most of the seeding games, he was finally able to get some rhythm going in the last few games that has fans hopeful for his contributions come playoff time.
In the team’s last regular-season game, McDermott was letting it fly, finishing the game with 23 points shooting 50 percent from the field and 5-of-11 from three.
Even though that game vs Miami was “not important” there were still small things like this that can help Indiana for their upcoming matchup. For a shooter, confidence can go a long way, so I’m glad Doug was able to gain some of that before heading into the playoffs.