It may only be the preseason, but the Indiana Pacers look like their adjusted to playing at a faster pace. As a result, the team appears to be much more of an offensive threat heading into the 2016-17 season.
In training camp, the Pacers have been focusing on speed and conditioning. Head coach Nate McMillan has had his players scrimmage with a 14-second shot clock; 10 seconds fewer than allowed. By doing this, the players have to play, think and react faster than usual.
The results from this experiment have been very positive so far. In two preseason games, the Pacers are averaging 114 points per game. Their ball movement has been much faster than previous years, and as a result, they are getting open looks more often.
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McMillan’s new offense gives the players a lot of freedom. He is not calling many plays from the sideline and is putting the ownness of generating offense on his top players like small forward Paul George.
"“If we have a free flow where we’re not coming down pounding the ball or we’re not coming down looking to call plays, it puts us in attack mode every possession.” George said. “Coach is fine with us getting a good look with 23 on the clock or two on the clock. It’s on us to push the tempo and get good looks.”"
Although the Pacers have played well in the first two preseason games, this team is still a work-in-progress. Remember, Bird brought in a lot of new pieces to play alongside George and Myles Turner.
Through offseason trades and free agent signings, Bird acquired veterans Jeff Teague, Thaddeus Young, Al Jefferson and Aaron Brooks. It will take some time for all of these guys to get used to playing with one another.
Also, it is going to take some time for McMillan to identify what his best lineups are and how many players he wants to use in his every game rotation. Honestly, he has more than five players with starting experience and more than 10 deserve quality minutes per game.
Even though this team is not a finished product yet, the flashes of potential this team has shown in the preseason has got a lot of people excited. Specifically, George thinks the Pacers could easily be one of the league’s top scoring teams this season.
"“I think that’s going to take some time, but once we get it, we could easily be a 115-point team a night.”"
If the Pacers achieve that 115 points per game average, their offense would rival the Golden State Warriors statistically. The Warriors averaged 114.9 points per game last season.
The Pacers’ roster is much more talented than last season’s team. Plus, their new offense maximizes the team’s offensive talents. The combination of these two factors could make them a legitimate threat to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the East.