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Pacers Pre-Season Round Up

I kid you not.  I spent about an hour preparing a detailed post but lost it all.  Life is too short, so let me run through what has been happening with the Indiana Pacers in a more concise manner.

Regular season commences next week!

The regular season tips off for the Pacers Wednesday night against the Spurs in San Antonio.  We all know the preseason doesn’t mean a whole lot — it’s the time for coaches to fine tune their lineups, try out a few things and give playing time to the rookies and new guys.

However, if anything, this preseason has been nothing but a cause for concern for the Pacers.

A lackluster preseason

The Pacers finished the preseason with an ‘okay on paper’ 3-4 record.  They lost the first 3 games against Memphis, Orlando and Houston, respectively, then reeled off 3 impressive victories against the Timberwolves (twice) and Hornets, before being slaughtered by the Bulls 102-74 in the finale.

As reported on Indystar, coach Jim O’Brien is not happy with what he has seen, and the players know it.

“A long way to go, a long way to go,” he said. “We need to become better in all areas. There’s not an area we’re set in.”

“I take nothing out of (the game). I know who can play and who can’t play. I know my rotation already and what it will be. A game like tonight lets people outside the locker room know the reason why some people play and some don’t.”

Some stern words there.

How the players performed

Here are the preseason stats for the Pacers.

Again, you can’t tell much from preseason stuff, but it’s good to see Big Roy Hibbert — who has been the talk of the town this offseason, working out with Bill Walton and getting into tip top shape — lead the team in scoring (17), minutes (31.4), rebounds (8.7) and blocks (2.29).  Hopefully this will be the season Hibbert breaks out and becomes a star…well, at least a regular contributor who doesn’t foul out in 10 minutes.  His rebounding, which has never been his strengthm, will be key as the Pacers lost Troy Murphy over the summer.

Interestingly, O’Brien doesn’t think Hibbert had a good preseason, saying that he can play a lot better.  Let’s hope he’s right.

Danny Granger as usual struggled through the preseason shooting some awful percentages before hurting his ankle in the 5th game.  He’ll be ready on opening night.

New star recruit Darren Collison is still trying to find his groove with this team.  His numbers have been pretty close to what he produced, on average, at the Hornets last year.  I think once he settles in and if he can play 35 minutes a night, he’ll be great for the Pacers this year.

Mike Dunleavy is improving, getting his legs back after a disappointing season.  Tyler Hansbrough is also back and looking good sporadically.  As is Jeff Foster, who is returning from back surgery and well and truly in the twilight of his career.  Not going to expect too much from these three — it’s good enough that they stay healthy for the first half of the year and get their conditioning into top form.

Last year’s surprise second round pick AJ Price has returned from a knee injury much faster than expected and played so well that O’Brien called him the best player on the team.  If we assume TJ Ford will hardly play or be shipped out at the first possible opportunity, that’s a great sign.

Oh yeah, almost forgot about Brandon Rush, who will miss the first 5 games with his drug suspension.  From what we’ve seen this preseason, he is still exactly where he has been the last couple of years.  At least now we know why.

As for the rookies, Paul George, Lance Stephenson and Magnum Rolle?  George played a lot of minutes and has shown some flashes, but he’s got to find his stroke.  At least he is not shy in putting it up.  Stephenson just needs to sort out his legal troubles, then start working on his defense.  He’s being abused out there.  And Rolle?  The Pacers want him to stick around, but they haven’t given him much playing time.

Who is going?

The Pacers still have 16 people on the roster after getting rid of Lance Allred, who never stood a chance of being retained in the first place.  They need to get down to 15 before opening night.

The rumor is that they are trying to set up a 2-for-1 trade that will simultaneously get rid of Dahntay Jones and Solomon Jones, two guys brought in last season with high expectations but never delivered.  It’s going to be hard to package those two, and besides, who are they going to get in return?

So that’s that.  Fingers crossed that the Pacers can remain healthy this year and prove the doubters wrong.  And there are A LOT of doubters.  More on this to come shortly.