The New Orleans Pelicans (8-18) play the Indiana Pacers (13-13) at 7 p.m. on Thursday night in the Smoothie King Center. The Pacers are playing at Miami as this story “goes to print” - so make sure to check with our friends at IndyCornrows to see how they did tonight. I ain’t watching that ish.
I’m not watching out of an anti-Indiana feeling (although I do live in Illinois, so...): they have a true star in Paul George and have some other interesting pieces. This could be a fun game if guys can make shots, but I must mention it’s high time New Orleans notches a win against the crew from Indianapolis. The franchise has suffered 10 straight losses to the Pacers, and the last victory came back in the 2010-11 season when Chris Paul was still in uniform!
Generally, the Pacers force a lot of turnovers, shoot a high 3pt%, and get a lot of steals and blocks - it could be messy and wild out there. Both teams allow a lot of 3-point attempts, so that combined with all the rim protection (both teams are near the top of the league in blocks) and recent Pelicans success from behind the line (16 makes against Phoenix, 14 versus the Warriors), look for a bunch of 3s to get up, especially by Nola and even doubly if the “Baby Cakes” lineup of Frazier-Jrue-Galloway-Moore-AD sees more time.
The problem is when New Orleans misses: the Pelicans are unlikely to get offensive rebounds (rank last in the league, 2 whole percentage points behind the 2nd worst Hornets) and the Pacers are already pre-disposed to get defensive rebounds (second-highest DefReb% in the league).
The cadre of individual players on the Pacers, outside of Paul George, does not show a lot of young talent for the future outside of stud center Myles Turner. Now in his second year, Turner has shown plenty of skill, aggression and maturity for a guy just 20 years old. He’s massive. He’s averaging 15, 7 and 2.3 blocks; he shot 50% last year, he’s shooting 53% this year and 37% from 3s. He’s going to start every game this year (assuming health) and could be-might be the reason Paul George sticks around Indianapolis for another contract.
The rest of the rotation for Indiana features a lot of guys who have been around a time or two: Thaddeus Young, Monta Ellis, Aaron Brooks and Rodney Stuckey, notably; CJ Miles has found his stride after middling years as a youngster in Utah (now shooting 44% from 3s) and Al Jefferson appears to be old reliable in terms of quality bench minutes and how old he appears and plays. Young will start at the 4, and he is also shooting spectacularly (46.4%) - it’s potentially a career year for Miles and him, two left-handed small-ball 4s on the same roster. Huh.
Don’t forget about the forgettable, if steady, Jeff Teague. He came to Indiana over the summer in an exchange that saw George Hill go to Utah (where he immediately won Western Conference Player of the Month). A Jazz draft pick went to the Hawks in the 3-team deal.
The Pelicans come in likely with bittersweet feelings after playing the Warriors to a tight game, losing 113-109. The Pels have a bad offense and lack depth if you examine the whole year, but lately the bench has propped up a weak offense. Tim Frazier and Langston Galloway, in particular, have been great off the bench over the last few games, including a triple-double from Frazier just earlier this week against Phoenix. Plus, it looks like Chieck Diallo will be the human victory cigar—more likely the human white flag—the rest of the year, so even blowouts might be worth watching.
Hell, that’s worth a high five!