Indiana Pacers Playoff Preview; First Round vs. Toronto Raptors
With the 2016 NBA Playoffs set to begin on Saturday, let’s take a look at this year’s Indiana Pacers Playoff Preview.
The Indiana Pacers capped off their season with a record of 45-37. They will be heading into playoffs as the 7th seed and with a match-up against the Toronto Raptors in the first round. The Pacers will most certainly be the underdogs, but they could turn some heads and make this a competitive series. To do so, they will need to play a very disciplined defensive game and get solid contributions from some important players.
When George suffered a gruesome leg injury last year, many wondered if he’d come back as the same player. Fast forward to this season and everyone can put those doubts to rest. He has come back stronger than ever and is having his best statistical season yet, averaging 23.1 (PPG), 7.0 (REB) and 1.9 (STL).
What makes George so special is his ability to play both ends of the court. We all know what he can do offensively, but what separates him is his play on the defensive end. He can lock down defenders and create turnovers with his long reach and active hands. His play on defense is a huge reason why the Pacers average a league best 18.9 points off turnovers.
George’s effectiveness offensively and defensively could be the deciding factor on whether the Pacers can pull off an upset.
The Pacers’ strength this season has been their defense. They have a defensive rating that ranks 3rd in the league at 100.2 opponents’ points per game. A major reason why they’ve been so successful is rookie Myles Turner.
They selected Turner with the 11th pick in the first round. He started off the season slowly due to injuries and lack of playing time, but he has quickly emerged as one of the Pacers most important pieces. He is a great rim protector averaging 1.4 blocks a game in just 22 minutes of action. He also has good touch around the basket and a decent stroke from the outside for a big man.
Turner’s versatility and shot-blocking could make a real difference in this series.
Statistically, Ellis is having his worst season ever. He is averaging just 13.8 (PPG), his lowest point total since his rookie year in 2005. When the Pacers signed Ellis this season to a 4 year, 44 million dollar contract, they were hoping he would help with the team’s struggling offense. So far, he hasn’t lived up to expectations. However, maybe he can turn things around in the playoffs.
Ellis is a player who is capable of dropping 25 points a game, he proved that in his days with the Warriors. George can’t carry the offense all by himself so someone else will need to step up. This could be the perfect opportunity for Ellis to come in and do what he was brought in to do, score.