Odd Thoughts: Road Warriors
Written by Peck
For those of you that did not stay up late or better yet have access to NBA league pass and watch the Pacers play the Kings I’ll just end the suspense now for you if you didn’t already know.
The Indiana Pacers won.
There are lots of people doing reviews of the game so I am not going to rehash that. There is also going to be lots of talk about Danny Grangers fantastic game and if you didn’t see it he was just absolutely fabulous. There will also be lots of talk about the teams new found religious conversion to the doctrine of defense and by all means that does need to be talked about & then probably talked about some more after that.
But what I want to do is focus on a couple of reasons why all of a sudden we are a force & my God it is hard for me to type that without literally wanting to stand up and thrust my fist in the air & let out a primal Viking like scream. But I am going to say we are a force right now and the reasons are many fold.
But one thing and one person who may be being overlooked here is someone who was often maligned early in the season.
Solomon Jones was benched for two games versus the Clippers and the Magic but since his return to the regular rotation he has provided the Pacers with solid relief for Roy for when he is on the floor.
Since returning to the lineup Solomon has averaged 7 points and 5 rebounds per outing and while this next statistic can be debated in value and how it should be used it is certainly worth noting that Solomon has had the following +/- in each game.
Versus Miami his +/- was + 21
Versus Cleveland his +/- was + 1
Versus Oklahoma City his +/- was + 11
Versus Los Angeles his +/- was – 3
Versus Sacramento his +/- was + 4
Again you can argue the value of that particular statistic but if you watch the games you can see that when Roy has gone to the bench we have not had the dramatic drop off in talent level that we had been experiencing earlier in the season.
Solomon has joined in with every other member of the Pacers and taken real pride in defending the paint and has been far more physical both on defense and in going after rebounds than we have seen previously in his time with the club.
Obviously not the most glamorous of players and I’m not trying to over state his value to the current winning ways but I do believe his contributions to the club are very real and at this time very beneficial. I still shudder when I think about Roy rolling an ankle or getting in foul trouble early in a game but for the minutes he has played recently Solomon has given the Pacers good relief for Roy’s down time.
Something that I did not foresee coming this year & if you said you did you are either a liar or well no there is nothing else you are a liar, is that the Indiana Pacers have become Road Warriors. We are 6-2 away from the fieldhouse with our losses coming on the second half of a home and home series with Philadelphia and the other loss coming to the 15-2 San Antonio Spurs.
You don’t go into other people’s houses and routinely walk away with victories unless you are playing solid defense night in and night out. Sure you can have a punchers chance of hitting a lot of long distance shots but that is not going to happen more often than it fails. The only way to have a winning record on the road is to be a defensive machine. Which as of right now you have to say that the team is a defensive machine.
A machine that works so much better when Josh McRoberts plays on the floor for an extended period of time. Statistically Josh is not having a great season, but we are not the same team when he goes to the bench. He provides a level of toughness, rebounding and frankly panache that nobody else on the team does right now.
If you saw the game or if you saw highlights of the game you will see a one handed throw down that he did on the fly with T.J. Ford. That was breathtakingly spectacular but it wasn’t his best play of the night. In one of the first possessions of the game he grabbed a rebound with one hand and in one fluid motion turned and whipped it length of the court to a breaking Danny Granger for an easy layup. Visions of Payton Manning to Marvin Harrison should come to mind when thinking of this if you didn’t see it. However it could be argued that equally as impressive was his block of a Jason Thompson dunk towards the end of the game. He just absolutely smothered him on that block. Also it should be noted that Josh had 7 points but only 2 of those came from the field, he was 5 of 6 from the free throw line.
Other quick notes from the game.
In yet further proof that this is not your Fathers Pacers (or last season for that matter) the team is now routinely coming out and getting on teams in the 3rd quarter where last year that seemed to be our waterloo. The Kings and Pacers went into the half tied at 52 but the Pacers came out swinging and outscored the Kings 28-17 in the third. This is becoming somewhat of a common event this season. While teams are always making a run to get caught up often times our lead is just enough for us to overcome their run. Tonight was no different as the Kings outscored the Pacers 29-27 in the 4th but by then it was too little to late. This is in stark contrast to last season when our team would routinely be crushed in the 3rd with no hope of overcoming the massive deficit by the end of the game.
While it has been nice to do several Odd Thoughts without having to deal with many negatives I do have one tonight that I have to kind of point out. Really it’s almost more of a question than an observation.
Why has Tyler Hansbrough regressed so badly this season? He looks totally lost and out of place whenever he is on the floor. I mean he is battling on the inside and attempting to rebound but on offense he doesn’t appear to have a clue and often times on defense he is missing assignments as well. I understand that he is essentially a rookie this year but he seems worse now than when he was a real rookie last year.
Also while this isn’t so much a negative or a question but more of an observation but dang talk about cold. Jim O’Brien has left Paul George in street clothes for his only trip home for the year. I understand that Brandon certainly has earned the right to pass him by in minutes played on the floor but dang talk about timing. Now the question is has Paul regressed to the point of now not only being out of the rotation to the point of being non playable? Odd that Foster is dressed but they seem to have zero desire to use him in the games. Honestly at this point I wonder if maybe suiting up A.J. or Paul would be a better choice. But with the recent play and record it is really hard to criticize him for personnel decisions.
Which brings me to the last point of this thread and this should be a doozey. Today’s question comes courtesy of Diamond Dave.
What will you think if Jim O’Brien wins Coach of the Year?
Yes I know I nearly had an airway obstruction after having a seizure just thinking about this but after further review as odd as this sounds coming from me, at the current winning pace and if the team makes the playoffs this is not out of the realm of possibilities. Nor, dare I say it, is it something that would not be earned.
Oh what a rush!