2008-2009 Indiana Pacers Season Preview
2008 Indiana Pacers preview from MadduxSports.com. After reading be sure to view today's NBA point spread odds for the scheduled games.
A few years back, the Indiana Pacers (36- 46) were thought to be one of the top team’s in the league. And although they posted a losing record and no one would declare them ready to compete for the NBA crown, they missed the 2007- 2008 playoffs by one game. That’s not bad for a team that was severely hampered by injuries and a lack of young talent. Last season, new coach Jim O’Brien instituted a system that included lots of ball movement, cutting and running and three-point shooting. The system worked to produce points and the Pacers’ offense, which had been rated 30th the season before, was ranked 18th in 2007- 2008. Two primary players, Jermaine O’Neal and Jamaal Tinsley, missed large amounts of time, which certainly hurt Indiana’s game. The golden lining could be found in the output of Danny Granger and Mike Dunleavy. They were number one and two in scoring.
Indiana’s penchant for three-pointers (they were rated third in attempts with 28.9% of their shots originating from downtown) certainly helped the club score points quickly. While throwing up threes, they rarely defended against them, instead working hard in the paint to stop opponents. A major problem for the team was their tendency for committing fouls. Pacer opponents averaged 1.5 more charity attempts per game. The club’s rebounding was good and their ability to create dead-ball turnovers was outstanding. These things kept the Pacers in the game.
GM Larry Bird started wheeling and dealing as soon as the season ended. Jermaine O’Neal, a six-time All-Star, was dealt to the Toronto Raptors for T.J. Ford, Rasho Nesterovic, Maceo Baston and the 17th pick of the 2008 draft (Roy Hibbert). Bird made another deal for the 11th pick of the draft and Ike Diogu; the Pacers got Jarrett Jack, Josh McRoberts and the 13th pick (Brandon Rush). All of these moves were designed to help reinforce O’Brien’s up-tempo, shoot-from-downtown game. Guard Jamaal Tinsley, who has been discontent, may be traded soon too.
O’Neal is gone and not yet replaced. The Pacers need a shot-blocker and inside scorer. Together, Nesterovic and Hibbert could be the solution. Troy Murphy, with 7.2 RPG and 12.2 PPG, and Jeff Foster, with 8.7 RPG and 6.4 PPG, offer output from the power forward spot.
Ford is a fine point producer. He averaged 12.1 PPG and 6.1 APG. He hit 47% of his shots from the field and 88% from the foul line. However, his defense was lacking last year. Dunleavy and Granger, who averaged 19.1 and 19.6 PPG respectively last season, played beyond all expectations. Dunleavy hit 42% of his threes and Granger 40%. Guard Marquis Daniels has underachieved, but he’s proven to be an important reserve.
The team lacked a team leader in 2007- 2008. They need at least one in their locker room, but who will it be? O’Brien must have some allies in order to get his team back to the playoffs. This team has suffered through numerous injuries during the past few years, and those injuries have kept them out of the post-season. Give this team a year and with the right circumstances and some team chemistry they could be back in the post-season. The Pacers will capture last-place in the Central and stay home for the post-season. Wait until next year!