Sunday, January 14, 2007

Waiting on the Pacers vs. Nets

The Pacers celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with a matinee at New Jersey Monday afternoon. Despite the gut wrenching loss to Dallas on Friday, the Pacers level of play has risen lately so this game against the Nets offers another chance to take a step forward. Here is Bruno's game preview. The preview raises a couple of points:

  • Rick Carlisle feels his starting line up should take advantage of the size advantage they often have in the individual match ups. I think the Nets pose a different challenge since the match ups are pretty even from a straight physical stand point. Of course, Jason Kidd has the size and quickness advantage going for him which always makes the Nets a tough win for the Pacers.
  • Carlisle often gets criticized for his reluctance to let his team loosen the reins on offense and though he talks about wanting the team to run in reality prefers to call plays for the half court set. Well, this quote kind of ruins the basis for those criticisms.
  • "We went to a lineup which is, in my opinion, is as physical a lineup as there is in this league," Carlisle said. "If you look at it man-for-man, Jackson is bigger than his man most nights, Al is always bigger than his guy, Jermaine is almost always taller and stronger than his guy and Jeff is equal usually in size and has a quickness advantage a lot of nights. And (Jamaal) Tinsley is above-average in size. We have to take advantage of that aspect.

    "We have the ability to go smaller and player faster but it's important when we have that group in there that we're playing a physical game at both ends, getting to the free-throw line, and with no diminished emphasis on stops and running. You've got to run to get easy baskets. I have been a staunch believer in that and it's no less an emphasis for us. But our lineup situation has changed our overall outlook just a little bit. We've got to play to our strengths."
  • The point about easy baskets from the above quote is just plain common sense. If the Pacers had a couple of bread and butter half court plays (like say, Dallas does with their two man pick and roll/pop) it might be different. But, often getting a solid look and completing the play out of the half court set is like pulling teeth. They've improved lately because the defense has stepped up which leads to more easy baskets on the other end.
  • Jason Kidd has been on fire lately. Last week he followed up a 23 point, 11 assist, 14 rebound game against Chicago with a 24 point, 13 assist, 6 rebound game against Minnesota.

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