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1: Obviously the Pacers made some huge philosophical changes over the offseason by casting aside some tough, defensive oriented players in an attempt to speed up the pace and obviously the early returns have been poor. How much faith over at Indy Cornrows is there still in this new system and what do the Pacers need to do differently for it to work?
Faith in the system is certainly shaken after the last game delivered an absolute collapse in the second half to a big Utah Jazz team that adjusted to the Pacers spread attack and then hammered them with no resistance. The Pacers showed promise in their first two losses to Toronto and Memphis before also struggling to finish, but against Utah there seemed to be no answers when things went off the rails and made it hard for anyone watching not to wonder...are there any answers?
A flexible roster capable of mixing and matching various players to matchup both big and small opponents was supposed to be a plus for the Pacers, but they are having problems finding the right mix and Frank Vogel will need to settle into a rotation with clear roles so they can begin to establish some sort of identity and then keep building from there. Not to be Mr. Obvious, but they also have to shoot the ball better. At some point, they will blow out a team because everyone makes their shots. Unfortunately, this is a group of streaky shooters and too many have had the clanks early on. If would also help if Paul George raised his level of play.
2: What's up with Paul George's rough early start? And I'll make this a two-parter, does he have enough talent around him?
Paul George considers himself a top ten talent and the way he played in preseason it appeared he would meet those expectations, but he has really struggled so far and the pressure to perform will only increase as the season continues. He mentioned being too amped early in the season which messed with his shooting rhythm but at some point he has to settle down, make the plays that are there to be made and more importantly, don't try to force a play that isn't there. Any success the Pacers will have this year depends on PG playing a monster role and there is enough talent around him to generate wins, they just have to figure out how to make it work.
3: The Hornets gave up on Lance Stephenson over the offseason. Was there any interest in the Pacers possibly try reuniting their 56-win roster?
The Pacers had no interest in bringing back Lance. The window on that teams closed last year after PG's leg injury. Roy Hibbert lost his nerve and David West has slowed down so much, that even had they brought back both bigs this year, it would've been a struggle. Now they are enduring a different type of struggle, but it is being done with the future in mind.
4: Based on the box score, one bright spot has been the early play of your rookie Myles Turner. What are some of the ways Turner has been making an impact early? Might he eventually challenge Mahinmi's starting job at some point during the season?
Turner has jumped in and been fun to watch, but he's still 19-years-old so his youth and struggles to avoid foul trouble will keep him from playing a leading role. I expect he and Mahinmi to split the 48 center minutes each night with the minutes split depending on fouls and/or success on the court. Turner runs the court well and is active around the rim, so he's ability to threaten shots and rebound have been nice to see. He's also capable and not shy about draining mid-range shots, so he has all of the tools ready to develop. The team has been watching what they describe as a minor knee issue which is something we've been keeping an eye on with hopes it isn't a chronic issue. Young, big guys are always a risk for injury, so hopefully that isn't the case with Turner.
5: Prediction for tonight's game, along with your confidence in that prediction.
I think the Pacers are going to destroy the Pistons, with all of those streaky shooters catching fire to earn their first win! My confidence in that prediction currently resides at less than 5% (which may be high).