The Pacers won their first game of the preseason last night 98-86 over the Timberwolves.
While a preseason victory over the T-Wolves is nothing to get too pumped about, there were some good things to see for Pacer fans. I’ll name a few.
The starting 5 looked really good together. One of the biggest question marks about the new look Pacers has been, “How will they replace Troy Murphy’s rebounds?”
Last night the front court line up of Hibbert, McRoberts and Granger completely controlled the glass. Those three in the game with Darren Collison and either Mike Dunleavy or Paul George overmatched the Wolves. That group with Dunleavy will probably be the starting line up, so it is encouraging to see them play well together.
Granger was impressive not because he dropped 30, but because he showed an all-around game. The Pacers desperately need Granger to be an inside and outside threat who puts all kinds of pressure on the defense.
Last season most of the time Granger would hang around the three point line and jack up threes. Last night he posted up, curled around screens into the lane, drew fouls and shot threes after good ball movement. If Granger is doing all of those things he will be really hard to guard.
A couple other items of note:
Paul George is an exciting prospect. Athletically, he glides up and down the court. He has a smooth looking shot, and can also get to the rim. He is active rebounding and defending. He doesn’t look like a rookie on the court, and it’s crazy to think he’s only 20 and still raw in many ways.
Josh McRoberts is a breath of fresh air. After the last few years having Troy Murphy at power forward, it is refreshing to see someone as athletic and active as McRoberts. Ideally the Pacers can get reliable scoring from Hibbert, Granger, Collison and Dunleavy with McRoberts settling into a role of crashing the boards, making hustle plays and the occasional monster dunk.
I’m not advising you to go ahead and start saving money for playoff tickets. This is a pre-season game, and one where the T-Wolves especially didn’t really look like they cared to be there. The Pacers are very young and the season will have its share of highs and lows.
However, fans can be glad the Pacers are a rebuilding team heading in the right direction.