Preview and Chat: The Indiana Pacers

Kurt —  February 2, 2007

Last time these two got together. The Lakers won pretty handily, 101-86, leading from the middle of the first quarter on and the game was never really in doubt. The Lakers did it on the strength of their starters — all five of the regular starters (Smush, Kobe, Walton, Odom and UPS) were at least a +16 and everyone but Smush scored in double digits.

That said, I’m not sure how much we can take from that game — the Lakers are without two of those starters and the Pacers look very different than the team the Lakers faced in December.

What about the new guys? It was just a couple weeks ago when the Pacers sent Stephen Jackson and Al Harrington to bother Nellie and the strip clubs in the Bay Area. In return they got Dunleavy Jr. Troy Murphy and Ike Diagu. The Pacers were one of the worst offenses in the NBA and these guys were expected to help change that. So, how have the newbies done?

We’ll start with the former Notre Dame star Murphy, who is averaging 28.2 minutes per game and is averaging 9.7 points and 10.5 rebounds in those games. He’s shooting 49.1% (eFG%) since the move, which is pretty much where he was at before. The one difference is rebounds, he’s grabbing 21.3% of the available boards since moving east, far better than with Golden State.

Then there is Mike Dunleavy Jr., who is playing 31 minutes a game and is averaging 11.2 points per game as a Pacer. The problem is he is shooting just 43.1% overall and 31.6% from three. He’s also rebounding less and clearly has yet to be comfortable in the offense.

I like Ike, but the people in Indianapolis probably don’t that way (of course, they may have been too focused on some little football game to notice). His minutes have dropped to 6 a game, he is shooting just 33% as a Pacer and his PER is a kicked-out-of-the-ABA level 1.99.

Guys who are playing well.
No shock, Jermaine O’Neal is a force. He remains one of the NBA’s elite and in the last 10 games he has been a 21 and 10 guy, although he is shooting just 42.5%. And, of course, there are the 3 blocks a game.

The guy to watch may be second-year man Danny Granger, who is stepping up. In his last 10 he is averaging 17 points and shooting 57.7%. His hot spot — Granger loves the right-corner three, where he is shooting 55% this season from beyond the arc. Can’t let him get a good look from there.

Things to look for. Last time these two faced each other, Kwame Brown and the Lakers did a solid job on O’Neal, who was a -28 but shot a respectable 50%, However, the rest of the Pacers were 21 of 51 on the night. The Lakers again need to shut down the supporting cast, Granger in particular.

The Pacers are one of the worst offensive teams in the league, even the Lakers should be able to keep them from scoring many points. The key will be to be efficient on offense, as the Pacers are one of the top 10 teams in the league in defensive efficiency. The Lakers were able to do that last time

Kwame Brown had a big game last meeting, scoring 17 on 8 of 12 shooting. The Lakers need something like that out of Bynum.