Monthly Archives: December 2020

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Walsh’s words proved prophetic. But despite Brown’s initial success, the Pacers lost in the first round of the playoffs in 1996 and didn’t make the playoffs in 1997. He resigned, saying he felt shame that the team didn’t make the playoffs and he wanted more input into personnel moves. He did manage to leave with his friendship with Walsh intact.

“I’m leaving because I think it’s time to move on,” said Brown, who was quickly hired by the Philadelphia 76ers, making the NBA finals in 2001. He won an NBA championship with Detroit in 2004.

5.Rick Carlisle (181-147, .552)
How different is history for the Pacers and Carlisle if not for the Malice in the Palace?

They went 61-21 and made the Eastern Conference Finals with a young, talented roster in his first season. The top three scorers were Jermaine O’Neal, Ron Artest and Cheap Al Harrington Jersey; O’Neal was the oldest at 25.

But nine games into 2004-05, Artest went into the stands in Detroit, derailing that promising core. The team was also plagued by injuries and arrests. That Carlisle produced a 44-38 record that season in impressive. But the record got worse the next two seasons as Larry Bird re-shaped the roster.

The Pacers were 29-24 shortly after the All-Star break in 2006-07 but lost their next 11 games and Carlisle was out after the season. He was hired by Dallas and has developed a reputation as one of the NBA’s best coaches, winning an NBA title in 2011.

Carlisle was criticized for his communication skills and for coddling certain players, but it’s unlikely anyone could have weathered the storm that faced Carlisle after his first season.

“There were a lot of things that went on here in the last three years there were embarrassing,” Bird said in announcing Carlisle’s dismissal. “It hurts being from Indiana. I had a major problem with a lot of it and we can’t have that.”

Carlisle added: “When you know it’s time, you know it’s time.”

6. Nate McMillan (183-136, .574)
McMillan was a surprising choice as the replacement for Frank Vogel but proved his worth in four seasons, keeping the Pacers competitive despite the Cheap Paul George Jersey drama.

Indiana made the playoffs in all four seasons as McMillan helped Cheap Victor Oladipo Jersey and Cheap Domantas Sabonis Jersey —the widely-panned trade package received for George — develop into all-stars, and got defensive improvement out of players such as Bojan Bogdanovic and Cheap T.J. Warren Jersey.

But the Pacers didn’t get out of the first round and were swept three times, resulting in a 3-16 playoff record. McMillan was given a contract extension before the league’s restart in the Orlando bubble this season but was fired after getting swept by the Heat in the first round despite playing without Sabonis and with Oladipo at less than 100% following a serious knee injury the previous season.

“We gave it a good run. Over the last few years, not getting out of that first round, I take responsibility for that,” McMillan told IndyStar. “It’s under my watch regardless of the number of injuries we’ve had. I didn’t get it done. The organization wanted to move on. I understand that.

“Sometimes it’s just time for a change. I agreed with that, too.”

7. Bob Hill (113-108, .511)
The 1990-91 Pacers vs. Celtics first-round playoff matchup is one of the great overlooked series in NBA history. The Pacers would lose, 3-2, but it’s not hard to pinpoint it as the start of the franchise’s success in the years to come.

However, it took Larry Brown for the Pacers to take the next step up as Hill followed up a 32-25 partial season and that incredible playoff series by going 40-42 and 41-41 without getting out of the first round of the playoffs.

When the team couldn’t come close to selling out Market Square Arena for playoff games vs. the Knicks in 1993, Hill was fired.

Talent seemed to be the biggest issue. Hill opposed trading Cheap Chuck Person Jersey and Cheap Micheal Williams Jersey for Pooh Richardson and Cheap Sam Mitchell Jersey the previous season … and he was right. Richardson was a 16-plus point per game scorer in Minnesota but barely hit double digits in Indiana and Mitchell was a role player who had his worst seasons in Indianapolis. But Person waned quickly and Williams was done after two more good seasons so keeping the duo would have been unlikely to have helped Hill keep his job

He had two successful seasons in San Antonio but a 3-15 start in 1996 opened the door for Gregg Popovich.

8. Isiah Thomas (131-115, .533)
Thomas is a challenge to rank. He took over a team that made the NBA Finals and didn’t get out of the first round of the playoffs. Then, the first season without him, the team went to the Eastern Conference Finals. You could argue he belongs one spot higher or lower on this list, so we’ll slot him in here.

Thomas inherited a team in transition but certainly not without talent, losing Cheap Rik Smits Jersey to retirement but gaining future star Jermaine O’Neal. Cheap Dale Davis Jersey was dealt for O’Neal, but Al Harrington was ready for a bigger role. Cheap Jonathan Bender Jersey couldn’t overcome knee injuries but Cheap Jeff Foster Jersey would develop into a useful big man. Cheap Mark Jackson Jersey was let go but Cheap Travis Best Jersey was ready to step up. The team added Cheap Brad Miller Jersey, Ron Artest and Cheap Jamaal Tinsley Jersey.

In the end, the Pacers just didn’t develop under Thomas. They were 37-15 on Feb. 14, 2003, but would finish the season 11-19 and were eliminated in the playoffs by a lower-seeded Celtics team.

Larry Bird’s first major move as a Pacers executive was to fire his former rival two months before the season and hire Rick Carlisle.

“I just had a gut feeling it wasn’t going to work,” Bird said at the time.

9. Jack Ramsay (79-92, .462)
The legendary coach got mediocre results in an Indiana tenure highlighted by the team’s first NBA playoff win.

“When my brother, Melvin, and I bought the Pacers he was one of our first coaches and took us to our first NBA playoff series,” Pacers owner Herb Simon said in a news release following Ramsay’s death in 2014. “Jack was a good, humble man who gave us our first taste of success in the NBA. This is a loss for the sport of basketball, not just the Pacers.”

Ramsay and Donnie Walsh teamed to make one of the most influential decisions in the history of the franchise.

After the 1987 season, the Pacers targeted improving their backcourt; Walsh was in Hawaii the first time he saw lanky, 6-7 UCLA guard Cheap Reggie Miller Jersey. He called Ramsay, sent him film of Miller and asked his opinion.

“Draft him,” Ramsay said.

Miller would go on to a Hall of Fame career and lead the Pacers to their greatest run of success in the NBA in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Ramsay was 864-783 in his NBA career, and was named one of the league’s Top 10 all-time coaches in 1996. He won the NBA title in Portland in 1977

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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.

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Domantas Sabonis is quickly becoming one of the best offensive big men in the game.

Domantas Sabonis has had quite the evolution during his four-year stint in the NBA. In the first year of his career, which was spent with the Oklahoma City Thunder, the former Gonzaga star looked like a bust, as his 39 percent shooting percentage was evidence he wasn’t ready for the vicious world of the NBA low post.

After moving to the Indiana Pacers in the deal that also forced Cheap Paul George Jersey and Cheap Victor Oladipo Jersey to swap places, Sabonis become one of the best reserves in the league, routinely bulldozing second-unit centers and helping the Pacers become part of the furniture in the Eastern Conference postseason.

Last year, Sabonis stepped on the accelerator, making his first All-Star team while averaging 18.5 points, 12.4 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game, all of which are new career highs. He is also one of the best in the league when it comes to production that doesn’t show up in the box score, as only Rudy Gobert was more effective at setting screens last year than him. With an offensive-minded coach in Nate Bjorkgren taking over for the defensive mastermind that is Nate McMillan, expect those numbers to increase this season.

The son of EuroLeague legend, Portland Trail Blazers stud, and Hall of Famer Arvydas Sabonis, Domantas might not have his dad’s trademark bulk on the interior, but he has made up for it by becoming a lean, rim-running machine with excellent passing and improving defense.

Though it’s a few months later than usual, coming in early-December instead of late-September, tantalizing-training-camp-video season is here just the same. With ball movement aplenty and nary a missed shot, the latest 56-second offering from Pacers Sports and Entertainment has it all, from the continued use of (mostly small) hybrid lineups to Domantas Sabonis knocking down a three while playing alongside another big that isn’t Myles Turner.

Cutting further through the noise and clutter, however, is an early glimpse at Nate Bjorkgren’s playbook. For the first 20 seconds, as the ball hops around the perimeter with all the crisp speed of a flat stone skipping across the surface of water, two evenly dispersed units are shown orchestrating the same set, which just so happens to be an old favorite of the double-big Pelicans and offensive guru Chris Finch, who — as you may recall — the Pacers interviewed for their coaching vacancy.

With Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins operating like rotating shields, the play is designed to use the four and five-men as double screeners (twice!) to generate open looks for multiple ball-handlers.

Let’s break it down.

Step 1: First, Davis and Cousins set a stagger for Jrue Holiday to come get the ball from Rajon Rondo at the top of the key.

Despite the funky camera angle, and the fact that the action is developing on the opposite side of the floor, that’s also what’s happening, here, when Cheap T.J. McConnell Jersey makes a brief cameo to fire the ball to Cheap Edmond Sumner Jersey on the move.

Step 2: From there, Davis and Cousins shift to the area of floor where middle pindowns are typically set to chase the first stagger with a second. This time, freeing Purdue’s E’Twaun Moore to receive a pass from Holiday.

Again, this exact same choreography is performed by the Pacers, as Cheap Doug McDermott Jersey and Myles Turner shift closer to the baseline to set a second set of consecutive picks, with Cheap Kelan Martin Jersey cutting to the wing in the role of Moore.

Step 3: After that, Bjorkgren puts a twist on a classic. For the Pelicans, Moore drives and kicks off the catch to Holiday, who then misfires on a pull-up, mid-range jump-shot. However, if Davis were more comfortable moving to a spot to spot-up, the option would be there for him to simply back-pedal out to the three-point line, as does McDermott.

Side-by-side, the plays are identical, with the exception of Bjorkgren’s emphasis on finding the deep corner in lieu of possibly flowing into side pick-and-roll.

It’s that departure that makes the clip most interesting. For one, given that Bjorkgren has said that he hasn’t designated starters yet, it seems notable that most of the footage coming out of practice typically involves balanced lineups; in this case, with Turner and Sabonis anchoring separate units alongside a mobile shooter at the four or occasionally Cheap Goga Bitadze Jersey. That alone shouldn’t be taken to mean that the Pacers will be starting with, or leaning mostly on, a smaller attack, but it does seem to reinforce the idea that the team is preparing for a wide-range of playing combinations, including plenty in which their two bigs, making roughly $18 million apiece, are staggered.

Additionally, look back at how Oklahoma City’s defense is scrambling to guard everyone on that possession. When Andre Roberson goes under on the second pick of the first stagger, Steven Adams stunts toward the ball and then jumps back to Cousins. On the second stagger, Adams fully switches to Moore with Paul George veering in front of Boogie. If any one thing goes awry in that sequence, Cousins could get an easy dunk diving in front of a smaller wing or pop out to three against a lumbering five.

That’s a lot of chaos to keep track of, not counting the fact that the Pacers ranked among the bottom third of the league in corner three frequency last season. To that point, for a team that has long struggled to create offense against switching defenses, there’s upwards of five swaps that have to be made to cover that action in addition to a potentially long contest. Remember: Over the last two postseasons, with Boston switching off-ball screens and Miami clamping down on driving lanes, McDermott has gone 2-of-17 from three with only three (total!) attempts coming from the corners.

Granted, this play provides no guarantee of made shots, but at least it offers a more multi-faceted means for generating attempts with other reads and counters already baked-in.

Plus, if nothing else, there’s an easter egg (staggered staggers!) to keep an eye out for during the preseason slate beginning on Saturday against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Can Cheap Domantas Sabonis Jersey continue to become a star while playing alongside Myles Turner?
“In this offense (Turner) can stretch the floor and is really tough to guard,” Bjorkgren said. “You’re going to see him being very active. And that’s for both bigs, whether they are on the floor together at times, or one at a time, they’ll be very active out there.”

The biggest questions that are hanging around Sabonis right now involve his defense and his fit alongside Cheap Myles Turner Jersey, as figuring out which big man to put on the floor is the definition of a double-edged sword. When Turner leaves and Sabonis is by himself in the post, the team allows 111 points per 100 possessions, far below what McMillan wanted. When the two are on the floor together, two 6-11 bigs sharing the floor often creates a logjam on the interior. No team shot fewer threes than Indiana last year, and Turner’s 34 percent clip from three-point range isn’t good enough to make him a true weapon there.

Sabonis’ effort on the defensive end is not in question, but he isn’t a great shot blocker and often struggles against some of the stronger centers in the East. Another year with McMillan could’ve helped make that leap and become an above-average player on that end, but Bjorkgren will likely spend most of his time trying to get Sabonis to expand his offensive creativity.

It’s not hyperbolic to declare that Sabonis is a younger, less-accomplished version of Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic given how similar their games are right now. The elder Sabonis was heralded for his slick passing ability, which remains uncommonly precise for a player of his size to this day. That trait appears to be genetic, as the younger Sabonis can control the offense from the elbow while finding shooters for open looks after passing out of the post.

If he can develop a better jumper to make himself more of an offensive threat away from the basket, that could be the missing ingredient that takes this offense to the next level. Most of Sabonis’ shots attempts came right at the rim, and he only showed the ability to extend his range out to the free-throw line.

Where Jokic excels is his ability to pull up from deep, making him a constant threat with the ball in his hands. Sabonis might have a feathery touch near the rim, but back-to-the-basket big men are going the way of the dinosaur in the NBA, and he needs to work on his three-point game in order to become a true offensive superstar.

What made Sabonis’ production even more impressive, in addition to his limited range, was the lack of dynamic scorers to take attention away from him and pace on offense, both of which adversely affected his scoring numbers. With Bjorkgren now in Indiana, Sabonis is a mortal lock to get at least 20 points per game next year.

Considering that a playoff team like Indiana not only dumped a very qualified head coach, but also decided to switch up their coaching style by hiring Bjorkgren, there are plenty of questions surrounding Sabonis, Oladipo, and the rest of the Pacers. However, if Bjorkgren is able to work with Sabonis and continue his evolution on both ends of the floor, he’ll be much higher on this list in 2021.