Vogel to Bench All Five Pacers Starters Tonight in Milwaukee

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IND_VOGEL_FRANKThe Indiana Pacers just keep getting more and more interesting. And tonight, we’ll find out if their second unit is good enough to defeat the worst team in the NBA.

Why the second unit? Because all five members of the starting five — Roy Hibbert, David West, Paul George, Lance Stephenson and George Hill — are being rested tonight against the Milwaukee Bucks.

It is one of the most bizarre moves by a coach in an important stretch run, ever. The Pacers sit in 2nd place in the Eastern Conference, a half-game behind the Miami Heat. Vogel said all five starters will return to practice Thursday and will play Friday against Miami as the Pacers try to win the season series and the accompanying tiebreaker.

Bernucca: Have Pacers Lost Belief in Themselves?

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Believe it or not, there’s someone out there who doesn’t think the Indiana Pacers are coming apart at the seams. Lance Stephenson

“Everybody goes through this,” Spurs guard Tony Parker said last week after San Antonio manhandled Indiana, 103-77, on the Pacers’ home court. “I’m not worried about them. They’ll still make it to the Eastern Conference finals and they’ll still play Miami.”

Parker is somewhat right. From time to time, every championship contender has a stretch during a season where they look ordinary. Addled. Even awful at times.

Last month, the Miami Heat lost three in a row and seven of 11, including a home contest to Denver and a visit to New Orleans after which Chris Bosh plainly said, “We suck.”

The Oklahoma City Thunder welcomed back Russell Westbrook as they came out of the All-Star break and immediately lost three straight and five of eight, including a home loss to Cleveland and a road setback to the L.A. Lakers. The Houston Rockets were a pedestrian 8-8 in December, losing at home and on the road to Sacramento, at Utah and being blasted at Oklahoma City and Indiana.

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SH Blog: Paul George must improve offensively in order to save Pacers’ season, Kyrie Irving cleared to practice

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Paul George

By now, we all know that the Indiana Pacers have some major issues on the offensive end. If you don’t, check out the previous blog. What exactly are they doing wrong and who is the main culprit for killing their offense? Our friend coach Nick of Bbballbreakdown gives his take on the situation, and it mainly involves Paul George and how badly he has fallen off since the beginning of the season:

I’m sure Nick isn’t trying to say that George is to blame for everything, but as stated in the clip, his struggles when the Pacers lose sticks out like a sore thumb. Given that he is undoubtedly the most important player on the team, it makes sense that his struggles directly correlates with the team’s struggles. If part of the issue is, indeed, that he has gone away from the mechanics that helped him succeed tremendously in the early going, this could turn out to be a lost season for George because that’s not something he can fix at this point of the season – it would have been fixed by now otherwise.

George’s shooting percent has gone down every single month. He shot 47.2 percent in November and 46.8 percent in December, but hasn’t shot above 41 percent in any month since, bottoming out at an atrocious 37.2 percent in March. In the last nine games, he has shot below 29 percent five times and managed to shoot above 40 percent just once. That’s reaching Harrison Barnes status. To be fair, George is not the only major player on the team to see a steep drop in production. Roy Hibbert, who had averaged around 12 points and seven rebounds for much of the season, has seen his numbers drop to 9.7 points on 42.2 percent shooting and 4.6 rebounds in March without a decrease in playing time – simply inexplicable for a supposedly-dominant center. Hibbert has pointed out that the lack of ball movement from his guards may be the primary culprit for his struggles, but nothing excuses 4.6 rebounds from one of the tallest and strongest centers in the league. 

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PODCAST: What Will Intimidate the Pacers in the Playoffs?

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The Miami Heat do not intimidate the Indiana Pacers. That much was very, very clear in their matchup Wednesday night.

But you know what intimidates the Pacers? The moment.

We saw it last year in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals when they looked like deer in the headlights. And we saw it again Wednesday night when George Hill went to the line with 1.8 seconds left and a chance to put Indiana ahead by 3 – and promptly missed both free throws.

My biggest question regarding the Pacers is whether they have the moxie and confidence to get the job done in a winner-take-all game.

And we already know that the Heat possess those characteristics.

More on that subject, plus a spirited defense of the Philadelphia 76ers, in this interview on 1070-TheFan with Michael O’Grady and Joe Staysniak on “The Grady & Big Joe Show” in Indianapolis.

Online Basketball Radio at Blog Talk Radio with Sheridan Hoops Radio on BlogTalkRadio

Tweet of the Night: Klay Thompson credits bench for coming up big after hitting game-winning shot

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KlayThompsonSH1When the Golden State Warriors are working on all cylinders, there is no team they can’t beat in the league.

Need proof? They are the only team to beat both the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers on the road this season. The problem is that the Warriors have not been clicking on all cylinders for much of the season.

While boasting the third best defensive rating in the league, their 13th best offensive rating has often been bad enough to cost them plenty of games. Things have been smoothing over – particularly for the bench unit – on offense since the acquisition of Steve Blake just before the trade deadline, but their over-dependency on Stephen Curry’s wizardry and Klay Thompson’s 3-point shooting has given them mixed results thus far.

Golden State hoped to be one of the top four teams in the West, but has been sitting sixth or lower for much of the season. Because they are in a dog fight with three other teams just to make sure they get into the playoffs, every game moving forward will matter in the standings. After inexplicably blowing a sizable lead and losing to the Toronto Raptors in their previous game, the Warriors had to dig deep to find a way to beat the Pacers on the road on Tuesday.