One might suggest that the Indiana Pacers and the Golden State Warriors are two similar teams, at least in having an excellent starting lineup, perhaps the top two in the NBA, and not too much of a bench. If the starting five is what both rely on the most, than the Pacers proved they have the better one.
The team with the best record in the league didn’t find it easy to beat the Warriors in Oakland, but came away with a 102-94 win mostly thanks to a superb first quarter in which they ended up leading by 14 points, en route to the win.
Both Frank Vogel and Paul George see last season’s 103-92 loss in Golden State as a turning point for George and the franchise. Vogel said that George going 0-for-7 that day changes his entire approach, and with it the destiny of the franchise: from a good team in the East to a title contender and maybe the best in the NBA right now.
George finished scoring 23 points on 9-of-20 from the field. Quite a difference from that game one year ago.
I felt good coming off screens, dribbling the ball and hitting some shots. It’s just tough running around with those guys and still having legs to make shots at the end. That’s really what the toughness was.
The Pacers got 83 points from their starting players, and except for Lance Stephenson who once again can’t keep up consistent offensive performances without letting it go to his head, everyone shot quite well from the field. Both teams are excellent on the boards, but the Pacers won that battle 52-45, including grabbing 17 offensive rebounds. Roy Hibbert and Stephenson had 4 on the offensive glass each.
The Warriors remind some of a schoolyard bully. A tough team, but only against opponents they know they can outmuscle. This isn’t just a team with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson while the others help out. It is as just as much about their defense – about Andre Iguodala and Andrew Bogut. The problem is that across the board they continue to get inconsistent performances from the both of them, as Iguodala scored only 7 points. He is averaging only 5 points in his last four games, and the Warriors, not getting too much offense from their bench despite Harrison Barnes, need to find ways to get Iguodala more involved like before his injury.
The Warriors have the ability to do even better than last season, but it depends on some things that simply aren’t clicking at the moment. It might also depend on whether or not the team is going to make a trade to try and give them some backcourt support to Curry and Thompson, like they had with Jarrett Jack last season.
The Pacers are thinking about trades themselves, even though they’re the best in the league according to the record. They were one game away from making the NBA finals last season, and if they can start trusting their bench to perform in tight situations, which should happen considering the improved talent they have on it this season, no changes are going to be needed.