When the Indiana Pacers traded the long tenured face of the franchise Danny Granger, president of basketball operations Larry Bird remembered his plan to create a perennial juggernaut. He designed the team to be one of the best defenses in the entire association, and to create a group off the bench to provide scoring and defensive relief to the starting unit.
When the deal to acquire Evan Turner, a former #2 overall selection in 2010, and Lavoy Allen in exchange for Granger came to the table, Bird had a tough decision to make: to stick with the oft-injured, aging man who stuck with the franchise through bad and good times alike, or to roll the dice on the young swingman.
The deal was completed, and Turner joined the second unit. With the Pacers this regular season, Turner averaged 21 minutes per game in 27 games played. In those 21 minutes, he averaged 7 points on 41% shooting. Providing a few boards and assists in the process, Turner was an upgrade to Granger, collecting minutes where the injured Granger could not, and he is vital to winning the Eastern Conference Finals against Miami, especially Game 2.
In a rare appearance of high efficiency offense for the Pacers, all five starters as well as backup point guard C.J. Watson all provided double figures in the scoring department in Game 1. With Evan Turner returning to the active roster following a bout with strep throat, the offense will get an extra, necessary boost off the bench to compete against the Heat, who will most certainly be even more energized to even the series against the Pacers at a game apiece.
Can the Pacers rely on their offense to outscore Miami four times in this series? Considering that Miami possesses the best offense in the NBA (102.2 points per game on 50% shooting), and Indiana is 17th (96.7 points per game on 45% shooting) the answer must be absolutely not, but you must score to win.
What Evan Turner brings to the table in Game 2 and the rest of these Eastern Conference Finals is a few extra points off the bench and an extra body to throw at LeBron James and Dwyane Wade defensively to provide Paul George and Lance Stephenson essential rest to reinvigorate the wing starters to provide more offense of their own.
Evan Turner could be the difference between losing to an angry Miami squad and falling even again, or seizing the moment to kick them while they’re down, and take a commanding 2-0 series lead over the reigning champions.