What Did We Learn From The Pacers Trip To India?

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What Did We Learn From The Pacers Trip To India?

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What Did We Learn From The Pacers Trip To India?

The Pacers are back from India after beating the Sacramento Kings twice. What did we learn from the Pacers’ two preseason games overseas?

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INDIANAPOLISIt was a 2-0 trip halfway across the world for the Indiana Pacers.

 

In India for the NBA’s first ever game, the Pacers showed no jet lag on the offensive end of the floor in either preseason victory over the Sacramento Kings.

 

Friday’s first game in India saw the Pacers roar back from a 21-point deficit, sending the game into overtime, and pulling out a 132-131 victory. Newcomer T.J. Warren forced OT with a late three-pointer and led all scorers with 30 points.

 

Starters played just 19 minutes apiece in Game 2, slightly less than the Kings’ starters, but the Indiana bench won the final three quarters of the game. It was a 130-106 victory for the Pacers, with 5 reserves in double figures.

 

The Pacers have returned to practice back home and have two remaining preseason games: Friday vs. the Bulls, next Tuesday vs. the Timberwolves.

 

The regular season opener is Wednesday, October 23rd vs. the Pistons.

 

What did we learn about the Pacers during their trip to India?

 

  • Scoring Punch Could Come From T.J. Warren: Warren was the team’s leading scorer in India, averaging 18 points per game in 25.9 minutes of action. He shot 52 percent from the floor, including 60 percent from behind the arc. Warren’s stroke looks solid after he had a massive season in shooting threes last year, compared to his first four years in the league. Warren is most known for his mid-range game though, but if he can continue to be a capable three-point shooter, this is the guy who might be the team’s top scorer without Victor Oladipo. Warren scored around 18-19 points per game in Phoenix, but the Suns are terrible, so there’s a question on if that same output will translate to a better team. At 6-8, Warren gives the Pacers some flexibility at the 3 or 4 spot.
     
  • Brogdon Handles Point Guard Duties: The Pacers are very comfortable handing the ball to Malcolm Brogdon as their new point guard. In India, Brogdon finished with 9.5 assists and 1.5 turnovers per game, playing a little more than 25 minutes per game. What Brogdon might lack in speed, he counters with a 6-5, 229-pound frame that he uses to get into the lane and attack the rim. Now, the scoring punch from Brogdon took a bit of a backseat, as he averaged just 7.5 points per game, while shooting 26.3 percent from the floor. Will more point guard responsibility for Brogdon keep him from being one of the team’s top scorers?
     
  • Sabonis Produce In Starting Lineup: Domantas Sabonis told the Pacers he wanted to become a starter in 2019-20. The Pacers are giving him that opportunity. Sabonis showed positive early signs in that new role. The big man averaged 15.5 points and 9.0 rebounds in 25.3 minutes per game. Offensively, the Pacers weren’t flawless with the new starting pairing of Sabonis and Myles Turner, but that’s to be expected early on. Sabonis showed off some moves with both hands and was a beneficiary from a few of those Brogdon assists.
     
  • Bench Receives Spark: With Indiana deciding to rest their starters for a chunk of the second game in India, we got a long look at the members of the bench. The standouts included forward Alize Johnson, guard Aaron Holiday, forward JaKarr Sampson, guard Edmond Sumner and guard/forward Justin Holiday. Scoring hardly tapered off when the second/third units got on the floor. Exactly how the Pacers use these guys, along with point guard T.J. McConnell and forward Doug McDermott, remains to be seen. Unlike years past, Indiana doesn’t really have etched in stone bench roles heading into the regular season. Expect things to be fluid based off the guys who didn’t play in India and some of the variances in skillsets you have off the bench.
     
  • Still No Goga: We continue to await the NBA debut of Goga Bitadze. An ankle injury sidelined the rookie from both of the games in India, and that ailment will also force him to miss Saturday’s third preseason contest. That leaves just one preseason game left for Bitadze to play in, before the regular season starts. Remember, a visa issue kept Bitadze from participating in the summer league. Indiana is expecting to count on Bitadze for a significant role off the bench, but you wonder if all this missed game run will impact his early playing time. Third-year forward T.J. Leaf also missed both games in India due to a quad injury.
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