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Indiana Pacers test their depth in pre-season debut vs Memphis
For Indiana, this season has a new sense of direction. Tyrese Haliburton is an All-Star and their young core has embraced a winning mindset.
The Indiana Pacers’ season is near. Basketball is back, after a long offseason, NBA draft, summer league, and free agency. For Indiana, this season has a new sense of direction. Tyrese Haliburton is an All-Star, and their young core has embraced a winning mindset. The only problem is they have to figure out how to win.
The first step in that process is pre-season. The Pacers took on the Memphis Grizzlies Sunday night to open their season. Indiana played almost every player they had and lost their first game.
First look at the Pacers’ starting five
Indiana’s first starting five of the season included T.J. McConnell, Bruce Brown, Bennedict Mathurin, Obi Toppin, and Myles Turner. Tyrese Haliburton was not playing for rest reasons.
One can assume this will be the team’s starting five when the regular season commences, but Haliburton replaces McConnell.
In this lineup, Obi Toppin looked comfortable in the scoring role. He scored the team’s first points and knocked in a corner three in the first quarter. Toppin had seven points in the first half.
Bruce Brown looked quick on the court and assumed the backup point guard role with Andrew Nembhard out of play. Brown was aggressive at the rim and challenged the defense with his floater. He was 2/8 with five points and two steals.
Bennedict Mathurin was eye-popping on the TV copy (NBA League Pass). He played around 20 minutes in the first half and led the team with shot attempts and points. That was 7/13 with 18 points.
McConnell’s mid-range game was in full effect. He was running all over the floor and was finding teammates with ease. He was 5/7 with 11 points and eight assists.
The starters would not see any action after the second quarter, but they held their own.
Pacers’ rookies take over the second half
Jarace Walker and Ben Sheppard were fun to watch on both ends of the court. Neither one saw minutes in the first half but ended up playing 25 minutes. Overtime basketball helped there.
Ben Sheppard connected on his first two shots from behind the arc. He was a welcome sight to a team wanting to push the pace and space the floor this season. If he shows consistency in the jump shot, there may even be a path for him to crack the rotation in a Carlisle offense. However, that won’t come without defensive promise first. Ask Andrew Nembhard.
He was a gunslinger and took 16 shots. Ten were from deep. Although he only made six shots, he did not look lost and certainly had confidence in the shot selection. Shooters shoot.
He finished with 15 points, three assists, and three rebounds.
Jarace Walker impressed with his shooting ability after a slow start in that department. He was 7/15 from the field and made four threes. You could see him settle into the game, and once he found a rhythm he didn’t look back.
Walker led the Pacers in scoring with 19 points and nearly had a double-double on the stat sheet with nine rebounds. It will be interesting to see what his role becomes throughout this pre-season. Will Rick keep him with the young guys? Probably, but the battle will be intriguing with him, Jordan Nwora, and Aaron Nesmith.
The Pacers fell short in their first game, losing 127-122 against Memphis. The game went to overtime, but the extra minutes didn’t help. Still, more reps for a young team looking to get into playing shape is not something to complain about.
We will see the Pacers next take on the Rockets on October 10th at 8:00 PM EST.
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