With the loss of both Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner, the Indiana Pacers are struggling to close out and finish games.
In the Indiana Pacers overtime loss to the Charlotte Hornets on Tuesday night, the bench of the Pacers scored a total of 25 points. It’s becoming more apparent that the team’s bench is doing nothing productive to help the team.
T.J. Leaf is averaging four points while playing 13 minutes per outing this season. In the loss on Tuesday night, Leaf played 14 minutes and scored zero points. With the amount of players the Indiana Pacers have injured right now, they can’t afford to lose any production from anyone else.
With the loss of Myles Turner and now Domantas Sabonis, Goga Bitadze has stepped up for the Pacers. The 2019 first-round pick has given the Pacers a lot of hope moving forward. As the season progresses, Bitadze gives the Pacers some options regarding the team’s roster and rotations.
The Indiana Pacers have four out of the five starters playing over 32 minutes per game, simply because they can’t rely on their bench to produce.
T.J. Warren scored a team-high 33 points while playing 41 minutes on Tuesday night. Malcolm Brogdon also went for 31 points in 39 minutes against the Hornets (it is noted that the game did go into overtime). Eventually these minutes are going to start to catch up with these guys.
All of this leads me to wonder what the Pacers should do moving forward. Considering the lack of production from the Pacers’ bench, should the team consider splitting up Turner and Sabonis when they return from their injuries?
Turner went down and out early on in the Pacers’ game against the Brooklyn Nets. Turner went 3-for-5 for seven points in just 10 minutes. It’s hard not to believe that Turner was going to have a great night after his hot start. Considering how the rest of the team finished, Turner probably would have had at least 20 points (like the rest of his starting teammates).
The loss of Turner in the Brooklyn game forced Sabonis to do more work against the big men of the Nets (Jarrett Allen and DeAndre Jordan). Sabonis seemed to work the paint with ease and used impressive handles in doing so.
Sabonis finished his night with 29 points, eight rebounds, four assists, one steal and one block while playing a team-high 36 minutes. I don’t think the loss of Turner really effected Sabonis against a team like the Brooklyn Nets.
Considering the rise of Bitadze, who is providing solid rim protection and production for a rookie, it makes sense for the Pacers to transition Turner to the second unit. As mentioned earlier, the bench is providing absolutely nothing and may even improve from the leadership that Turner will bring to the court.
This rotational switch would give the Indiana Pacers more scoring opportunities for both units. Turner will help the second unit with their spacing, scoring, and defending. The Pacers could benefit greatly by making this move. But it seems a move like this has a lot to do with the production and consistency of Bitadze.
Besides Turner, Bitadze is the only other true center the Pacers have. At 6’11” Sabonis can play center, as he is the same height as both Turner and Bitadze. But it appears Sabonis enjoys playing the 4, rather than the 5. This could be a great opportunity for both the Pacers and Bitadze, as he transitions into a true NBA big.
When both Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis return from injury, it’ll be interesting to see how Nate McMillan adjusts the team’s rotations. More scoring opportunities from the Indiana Pacers bench are very much needed and Turner would provide that. Only thing is, would he be on board with this idea?