The Indiana Pacers lost to the Washington Wizards in Game 5 last night by a final score of 102-79. They simply weren’t able to score the basketball, rebound the basketball, move the basketball, or play with the type of energy that it takes to close out a series. Those three issues will beat a good team every single night, and the Pacers will have to find a way to make some changes to get those issues figured out. Chris Copeland seems to be a good source of scoring and energy, and there are three reasons that Frank Vogel needs to give him more playing time.
1. Spacing the Floor for Other Players
One thing that the Pacers don’t have on the floor at any given moment is a legitimate three-point shooter. Copeland is one of the best three-point shooters in the Eastern Conference, and could really help Indiana with spacing the floor. Indiana needs to stretch the Wizards’ defense out to open up the driving lanes for Paul George and Lance Stephenson, but it would also help either David West or Roy Hibbert. The only chance that Vogel has to stretch the floor out and force Washington to respect the three-point arc is putting Copeland into the game.
2. Energy Spark
If there has been one thing that Copeland has done consistently throughout the entire season, it has been providing energy off of the bench. He did it in the regular season, and he did it in the Pacers’ series against the Atlanta Hawks in the first round. In Game 5, Copeland came into the game and scored nine points, a rebound, and a steal in 10 minutes. Those numbers certainly aren’t shabby for being asked to come in after sitting the entire game, and playing very limited minutes.
3. More Efficiency from Backup Power Forward
Frank Vogel’s reason all season for not playing Copeland has been that he is unable to play defense and that Luis Scola can help on the offensive side of the basketball. The flaw in that logic is that Scola hasn’t helped offensively in quite some time, and his defense has been even worse. Copeland provides much better defense than Scola, and is a better offensive option at this point as well. As disappointing as it is that Scola has disappeared when the Pacers needed him the most, they have to move on and give Copeland a chance.
Overall, everything that can be thought of all comes back with the answer being to play Copeland. He has been ready every single game that Vogel has called his number, and it’s time that he gets the call to play rotational minutes. The worst that could happen is that the Pacers get the same kind of production that they have been receiving from Scola. If the best case scenario happens, the Pacers’ bench would receive a big boost of energy and scoring.