The Pacers are back in the playoffs after missing the playoffs last year due to Paul George’s horrific injury in the USA basketball exhibition game. In the offseason the Pacers saw where the trend of the NBA was going and decided to start building for a fast pace and space group of talent. Initially Paul George opposed the idea of playing power forward this year, but he went with what the coaches said and played the 4 spot 46% of the time this year. The Pacers have not gotten anywhere close to the level they were a couple of years ago, but Paul George individually saw his numbers rise slightly across the board. He is averaging more points, rebounds, assists, doing all of this on a higher true shooting percentage, and averaging less minutes per game compared to his 13-14 season. My biggest issue with Paul George is his consistency. Let me tell you an 18 game stretch of his this year in order from his 19th game to his 36th game these are George’s scoring numbers. 48, 33, 23, 13, 16, 19, 23, 29, 7, 12, 18, 9, 19, 31, 32, 32, 20, 13. You can find these kind of stretches throughout his career, but in the playoffs historically he has been very good. So, while it was worth mentioning, Pacer fans should not have much to worry about with him in this upcoming series.
Another player the Pacers picked up in the offseason to keep the pace up was Monta Ellis. Monta Ellis has a history of being on teams that like to run so in theory it made sense, but Ellis is having by far his worst year as a starter. They have not allowed him to have the ball in his hands as much, and letting him play more off ball is the wrong thing to do. His 2014-15 scoring numbers were 18.9 points a game and all on 50.9% true shooting. This year his scoring numbers are 13.8 points a game and on 50.4% true shooting. Pacer fans were hoping to get the Mississippi bullet and so far this year he has not been that guy.
I went through each play type on NBA.com/stats to find some positive things to say about the Pacers, and so far the only things I have found in at least the 80 percentile is Paul George in spots ups who is extremely efficient there, George Hill in spot ups, and George Hill off of screens. That is not a good look when you notice that this team is not as dynamic as they hope to be. On offense this team has very few options of how to score which makes them very limited. They are up against a very good Raptors team, and with that I feel like Paul George needs to average 30 points a game for them to have a chance. They are the 3rd best defensive team in the league, but ranked 23rd on offense. That is not a good dynamic and could be the death of them.
This is a building process in Indiana and nobody is expecting them to win a championship this year. They face the Raptors in the first round and if the Raptors throw out the lineups that involve Bismack Biyombo and Cory Joseph they will have an extremely hard time finding baskets. I have the Pacers going down in 6, winning two games off of big games from Paul George.
All numbers are accurate as of 4/15/16 from basketball reference, nba.com/stats, and