Preview & Chat: The Indiana Pacers

Kurt —  January 9, 2009

Records: Lakers 28-6 (1st in the West Pacers 13-22 (13th in the East)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 112.8 (2nd in league) Pacers 105.9 (18th in League)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 103.0 (4th in league) Pacers 108.3 (18th in League)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Vladimir Radmanovic, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Pacers Jarrett Jack, Stephen Graham, Danny Granger, Troy Murphy, Roy Hibbert

Lakers notes: How much fun was it to watch Von Wafer beat the Celtics? The guy could always put the rock in the hole, I hope his game rounds out to the point he can stick in the league.

No Odom tonight, which is to be expected. We’ll see about Sunday night, where with Marion and Beasley coming to town (along with some guy named Wade) his length would sure be handy. Still, it’s January, nobody gets rushed back.

Non-hoop thoughts for a Friday: Thanks to Anthony for today’s photo, which is a picture of his father before the Hornets game. I’ll let you guess which one is his dad (hint: Anthony is not locked up in a padded cell).

I’m not going to be the 8 millionth blogger to call for a college football playoff, that point is beyond obvious now. What I’m saying is it can’t be a four-team, plus-one system. Do that this year and USC and Utah (the teams that looked best in their bowl games) would still have been on the sidelines as the fifth and sixth ranked teams in the nation in the final BCS poll. Got to be an eight-team playoff, even if that means cutting the regular season back to 11 games.

I’ve taken to rooting for Jamie on Top Chef this season.

The Pacers Coming In: TJ Ford appears to be out with a back strain tonight, although officially it is a game-time decision.

The good news for this team, also battling injuries, is that it gets Mike Dunleavy back. His first game was against the Suns, he should get a little more burn tonight.

The Pacers are one of those teams that plays a lot of close games, they just have been a bit unlucky. They’ve beaten the Lakers and Celtics (and Suns in dramatic fashion two nights ago) but lost some close ones they should have won. (Mike Dunleavy might have changed some of that.) Look at their Pythagorean winning percentage and they should be 15-20, which would have them one-game out of the eighth seed. All of which is to say, this team actually could make the playoffs in the East.

For more info on the Pacers, be sure to check out Indy Cornrows.

Last time they met: On Dec. 2 the Lakers blew a 15-point lead to start the fourth quarter — Farmar was forcing the play and causing turnovers, Bynum disappeared from the boards — and the Lakers lost 119-118 on a Troy Murphy tip at the buzzer.

It was a fast-paced game with 101 possessions. The Lakers struggled to contain TJ Ford, who had 21 points and was a game high +21. But what really killed the Lakers was a bad night on the glass — Indiana grabbed 36.5% of their missed shots, and that’s a lot of second chance points.

Keys To The Game: Just like last meeting, this game is going to be a track meet — these teams play at the third (Pacers) and fourth fastest tempos in the league. As always in these cases, transition defense will be the key to whatever team wins. In the Lakers case, this also means controlling the boards on both ends.

Also, the Lakers need to slow the pace a little when the starters are in. As it is virtually every night, the Lakers have an advantage in the paint with their bigs, they need to feed them the ball early. That will open up the perimeter.

This is an interesting game for Andrew Bynum match-up wise. Hibbert is a good offensive player — he has a variety of post moves, can finish with either hand and has a jumper out to 16 feet or so you have to respect. However, he is not a good defender. Bynum should be able to get some points in the post (providing the Lakers get it there) but he has to be focused on the defensive end. And he’s got to control the boards.

If Granger is going to take a three with the game on the line, you better get right in his face. Ask the Suns. And much like Gasol, it would be disgrace if he is left off the All Star team.

Final thing — with a team that wants to run you have to take care of the ball. Turnovers fuel them.

Where you can watch: 7:30 start, just about the time the Cavs are done beating the Celtics. Fox Sports in LA and League Pass nationally.

210 responses to Preview & Chat: The Indiana Pacers

  1. 197, I think it was a little bit of both. I think the Lakers averged 94 points against the Celts n that series, which isnt good, but it aint horrible either. The celts however averaged over 100 points which is too many points giving up against a great defensive team. I think the Lakers just werent ready for a team like the Celts. The Celtics were way tougher and more physical then any team they faced in the West and had a intensity and a desire to win that the Lakers didnt have. no doubt a lot of the Lakers players, mostly the younger bench players were happy to be in the finals. The Celtics were a team of many veterens, both starters and bench players, that werent happy to be in the finals, only happy until they won it. That to me made a huge difference. The Lakers have to play hard and be mentally prepared when they play the Cavs coming up.

  2. 195. I prefer to think of the perfect scallops she made last week.

  3. Joe,

    The Celtics’ Finals PPG are skewed by Game 6.

  4. i think the lakers have enough offensive firepower to let kobe concentrate on only guarding lebron. the question is, can kobe shut him down or at least keep him under 20ppg and limit his playmaking? i think ariza is better suited for guarding lebron than any cavs defender for guardin mamba. if our team defense is decent, it might be better to let kobe score and let ariza handle the crab.

    what about the rumors of vc going to cleveland for wallys expiring deal? espn mentioned it a couple of times… i guess that would be bad news for the entire league…?

  5. I really think we need to look at the Cavs as a threat, even a rival. Since LeBron came to Cleveland, we never won against them. And now the Cavs, AT THIS POINT being a lot better than the C’s, we really need to shore it up defensively. We have to PREPARE for them, in case the C’s eventually fold.

    I guess I’m just a bit panicky, but hey, prevention is better than cure, right?

    PS: I really love this site, and here in the Philippines, the posts and comments here are the thoughts that I feed to my friends.
    Thanks a lot!

  6. You know, I’m not getting a real positive vibe from the Pacers game. Stu and Joel whined about defense all game, so did some fans the brothers K at LA times blog said the whole game felt unusual and uneven but I thought it was a really fun game to watch. Both teams just shooting the lights out and it comes down to a Kobe game winner, which never gets old.

    Yea, letting a “bad” team push the Lakers to the limit and hang 119 is not terribly encouraging (it supports my view that Odom is probably our most valuable defensive player though) but how come we can’t just enjoy a game where the teams were competitive and our best player played some of his best basketball?

    Also, watching another team implode in the final possession is kind of refreshing. If the Lakers had been on the other end of that, fans would be calling for Phil’s head and Luke traded (if anybody gets caught in that situation for the Lakers consistently, it’s Luke)

  7. Simon (206),

    As I mentioned earlier, I enjoyed the Pacer game, too–pretty much as you described.

    I connect defensive weaknesses with the different combinations of Laker players employed with no Luke, Lamar, or Jordan. Players need experience playing together as a unit before they gel.

    I’ll expect more in a week or so.

  8. Remember, about the defense, that the Pacers are the kind of team that gives the Lakers fits. Bigs who can step out and shoot from deep, an athletic three who can break guys down off the dribble, a team that can hit its jumpers.

    Not that this was a great defensive effort, but the Pacers are a tough matchup.

  9. What I’d also add about the Pacers offense is they ran a ton of motion and back cuts that we obviously weren’t as prepared for. We had the same type of problems against Sacramento. Realize that in our defense, we do try to jump passing lanes and we do try to get out on wings early to dictate where we want them to drive. The Pacers did a good job of exploiting this for the first 3 quarters. However, we did a much better job of defending this in the 4th quarter and got two or three steals by reading the back door cut and deflecting the pass. I also think that in any playoff series, these are the types of looks that you start to recognize and get accustomed to and can really take away.

    All of this falls into the category of regular season basketball. You try to win every game playing your style and maximizing your advantages over the team that you’re playing that day. It’s tougher to drill down and read the smaller tendencies that each team employs because the next night (or night after that) you’ve got another team with new tendencies. When the playoffs come, we’ll be ready to sniff out the strengths of each team, attempt to take those away, and then make teams go to things that they aren’t as good at. Under Phil, we’ve done this every playoff series we’ve been in to pretty good success. In other words, I’m not as concerned about how we played on defense against the Pacers. They were hot from the outside, have an offense and personnel that is going to give us more problems than other teams, and we still won. Next game is up, let’s focus on that.