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To play the game, the NBA says you have to have eight bodies in uniform, not necessarily warm.

Thanks primarily to the season debut of Kristaps Porzingis, the Dallas Mavericks made it under the NBA’s COVID cut to play the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday night.

That night the Mavericks listed five players out because of “Health and Safety Protocols.” Their game, against the New Orleans Pelicans on Jan. 11, was postponed.

The NBA rule is that teams need eight players in uniform, but NBA history says at least two of those players are nonessential workers.

In an obscure piece of NBA history, Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle once coached a game with the Indiana Pacers when he had just six guys, and nearly won it.

This will likely never happen again.

Lost in the noise of the infamous “Malice at the Palace” basketbrawl game between the Detroit Pistons and Indiana Pacers on Nov. 19, 2004, was the next night.

According to Elias Sports Bureau, “There have been many instances of a team playing as few as six players in a game. The last instance was April 10, 2019 (Portland vs Sacramento).”

The Blazers played six guys that night. What Elias is not sure of is how many times, if ever, an NBA team had only six players available.

The Pacers were scheduled to play the second of a back-to-back less than 24 hours after their fight with the Pistons.

A Pacers team that was expected to contend for the Eastern Conference title was without all of its best players, from Ron Artest to Jermaine O’Neal to Stephen Jackson. They had been suspended.

Veteran Reggie Miller was out with a broken hand, but he offered to play. Carlisle would not let him. Scot Pollard and Cheap Jamaal Tinsley Jersey both suited up for the game, but because of injury they were out.

While postponing a game this season is common, the idea of postponing an NBA game because a team had only six available players was as much of an unknown then as was COVID-19.

That night, there was not enough time for the Pacers to find additional players to put in a uniform. This was before NBA franchises could “call guys up” from their minor league teams.

Led by former Oregon Duck Freddie Jones, the Pacers hosted an Orlando Magic team that had Grant Hill, Steve Francis, Dwight Howard, Jameer Nelson, DeShawn Stevenson and Hedo Turkoglu.

The Pacers had Jones, David Harrison, Eddie Gill, James Jones, Cheap Austin Croshere Jersey and John Edwards. A team with that roster should have been run out of the state by the Magic.

Carlisle simply told his team that the fight happened, and they still had a job to do.

“It hit me when they announced the suspensions, and I looked around the locker room,” Jones told the Indianapolis Star. “I’m like, ‘Man, there’s just six of us left. And we’ve got a game in three hours!”

Jones and Gill both played 48 minutes. The Pacers’ starters accounted for all but two points.

At halftime, Jermaine O’Neal called Carlisle with advice to give David Harrison: Drink water, and eat a Power Bar.

Two Pacers had five fouls; no one thought the refs would foul out a single player.

The Pacers played with Orlando the entire night, and led by 2 points midway through the fourth quarter. It was growing evident the Pacers were exhausted.

They trailed by 1 point with 13 seconds remaining. Grant Hill hit some free throws, and Freddie Jones missed a 3-pointer that would have tied the game.

“I didn’t think it would be that close,” Grant Hill told reporters after the game.

The Pacers lost 86-83, and as their six players left the floor they received a standing ovation from a crowd that was well aware of the situation, and had made every noise possible to encourage a team to win a game that should not have been close.

Cheap Reggie Miller Jersey told his team in the locker room that it was the best game he had ever seen.

NBA roster rules, and the availability of players, essentially make this sort of game not likely to happen again, but if Carlisle has to go with only eight, he knows at least two are nonessential.

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The 33-point loss to the L.A. Clippers serves as a measuring stick for the Indiana Pacers.

One of the three favorites to win the NBA title along with the L.A. Lakers and Brooklyn Nets, the Clippers got what they wanted inside (layups) and out (open 3s) — the two shots opposing defenses want to limit the most.

Indiana Pacers guard Cheap Edmond Sumner Jersey (5) defends against Los Angeles Clippers guard Paul George (13) during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
When Cheap Paul George Jersey and Kawhi Leonard decided to put it out of reach, they did.

The Clippers also are prone to lapses themselves. They’ve been beaten by 51 themselves. It all underscores the need for common sense in a 72-game season.

>>With 2 All-NBA players, they’re better than the Pacers who don’t have any

>>Cheap Myles Turner Jersey, the league leader in blocked shots (4.2 per game) didn’t play

>>3 reserves had to start, Cheap Doug McDermott Jersey, Cheap Justin Holiday Jersey and Edmond Sumner

>>It was the finale of a 4-game trip that lasted 8 days

The Pacers’ manufactured starting lineup played mostly even with the Clippers. They lacked scoring behind that group to sustain any momentum.

Going in, the plan was for Indiana to be playing its best basketball going into the postseason — not before All-Star break.

In the previous two seasons in which the Pacers stormed out of the gates, they were swept in the first round of their playoff series.

They still wouldn’t have won vs. Boston or Miami, but they’d gotten predictable and lacked the innovation needed to prevent a sweep.

Coach Nate Bjorkgren has yet to get back Cheap Jeremy Lamb Jersey, who could be ready to play any day for the first time in a year since tearing his left knee ligament and breaking his leg.

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The returns of Cheap T.J. Warren Jersey and Cheap Caris LeVert Jersey have yet to be determined but they’ll add more wrinkles to an offense. Both are scorers first.

In the meantime, McDermott has gotten better. He’s more than a catch-and-shoot 3-point specialist.

Bjorkgren is using him on both sides of the floor. In the past, McDermott has only played on the left side which allowed him to go to his strong hand. Playing on the right side requires him to use his weak hand to get to the rim but also it forces defenses to work harder to take him away.

Turner has proven more versatile offensively as he’s gotten the green light to handle the ball up top and attack mismatches off the bounce.

The spacing with the other starting big, Cheap Domantas Sabonis Jersey, has opened more possibilities for both.

Cheap Aaron Holiday Jersey plays better with the second unit. Despite lacking a 3-point shot, there’s room for Cheap T.J. McConnell Jersey, at least in the regular season.

The next frontier is among the newcomers. Will there be a breakout from Cheap Cassius Stanley Jersey, Cheap Kelan Martin Jersey or Cheap Jalen Lecque Jersey?

There are a few months for that to develop, but whoever the Pacers are now isn’t who they’ll be for the playoffs.

This isn’t anything like the 46-point loss to the Toronto Raptors last season which was telling about the Pacers.

That team lacked the discipline. It lacked fire.

This version isn’t the Clippers, but the gulf between them isn’t as big as it appeared Sunday.

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Domantas Sabonis truly is a star, now it’s just time for the world to take notice.

Welcome to Pacer Profile, the series where myself and 8.9 Seconds contributor Aaron Braaksma take turns breaking down and analyzing the players who will be suiting up in that notorious navy and gold for the Indiana Pacers during the 2020-2021 NBA Season.

Today we are breaking down the skill set, strengths, weaknesses, and projected utilization and production of the Pacers’ star big man Domantas Sabonis.

Strengths
Scoring: Interior Dominance

From a scoring perspective, Sabonis is making it hard to warrant putting a single defender on him if stopping an easy two points is the opposing team’s objective. In 2019-20, Sabonis was extremely effective inside the arc because of his borderline unarguable post-game, filled with powerful drop steps, soft-touched post hooks, and some nasty post spins that would make his father Arvydas proud.

Each of these look as if they’ve been done hundreds of times, as his footwork might be some of the purest and fundamentally sound in the league.

In the aforementioned 2019-20 season, he took 92% of his field goals from inside the arc and converted on about 56% of these attempts. This speaks volumes about his ability to convert inside, and he gets lots of these buckets after coming out of a pick and roll, where he is a great diving big man out of this pick and roll situation.

To put the icing on the scoring cake, he appears to have some real upside as a shooter, as his standstill mid-range shooting is already a viable option.

Passing: 6-foot-11 offensive hub

Simply put, Cheap Domantas Sabonis Jersey is in the same tier as a player like Nikola Jokic when it comes to big men who pass like elite floor generals. It’s difficult to find plays where the Pacers’ point forward doesn’t hit the right man in an offensive set, and he routinely manipulates defenses with his needle threading passes to cutters or open three-point bombers like Cheap T.J. Warren Jersey, Cheap Malcolm Brogdon Jersey, Cheap Doug McDermott Jersey, and Cheap Justin Holiday Jersey.

He seems to know exactly where everyone is on the floor at any given time and he even makes passes based on assumption, not actually seeing a teammate yet, a skill only possessed by elite passers. He is a bit dependent on his left hand when making these plays, but his decision making is quick enough to mitigate this deficiency.

To throw some stats at you, in the 2019-20 season Sabonis made 67 passes a game, which was in the top three of players in the entire league, ahead of star passers like Luka Doncic and Lebron James. Although he only averaged five assists a game, he dished out 8.2 “potential assists” a game, which shows his ability to hit teammates in scoring position.

Rebounding: A real glass-gobbler

Sabonis is becoming one of the better rebounders in the league, and that is largely due to his instinctual “nose for the ball” and more importantly how he utilizes his superior strength and box out skills. Domantas has developed the ability to box out out of necessity because he can’t just out-length everyone like some bigs. Although he is 6-foot-11, his wingspan matches that, which doesn’t allow a lot of error when playing against players with over 7-foot wingspans.

Domantas actually seems to use this as a biological advantage, because it seems that this “average” wingspan for his size has actually allowed him to throw on much more muscle than his tall peers, which in turn can boost his post scoring and the aforementioned rebounding.

In 2019-20, he averaged 12.4 rebounds, which put him in the top five, while being top twelve in offensive rebounding with around three a game. They say whoever controls the glass will win the game, and there are nights when it seems like he is doing that all by himself.

With all of the previously listed strengths being enough to put him among the best big men in the league, there are still serious chinks in his armor that are holding the 24 year old back from superstardom.