Here at Blue Man Hoop, we’re gearing up for the 2012-13 season by looking around the NBA to see how each team matches up with the Golden State Warriors. We’ll give you an overview of each opponent, a matchup or stat to watch and a measure of just how big a threat each opposing squad represents for the Dubs. Be sure to check out the other previews we’ve done so far on Blue Man Hoop: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Bobcats, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, Detroit Pistons, Houston Rockets.
Indiana Pacers Preview
Last year, the Indiana Pacers finished second in the Central Division with a record of 42-24, took the Miami Heat to a Game 6 in the Conference Semis and ranked in the top 10 in both offensive and defensive efficiency.
But when the offseason began to unfold, things started to change. Team President Larry Bird stepped down, replaced by Donnie Walsh, who should be familiar—he’s been with Indiana before. Then GM David Morway left, as well. Former Blazers GM Kevin Pritchard moved up from his post as Director of Player Personnel to take Morway’s spot.
But the changes weren’t just limited to the front office. Starting point guard Darren Collison and backup wing Dahntay Jones were shipped out to the Mavericks and the team also lost Leandro Barbosa, Louis Amundson and Jeff Foster. No deathblows, but losing five legitimate NBA players is never easy.
Key acquisitions included D.J. Augustin from Charlotte and Gerald Green from Brooklyn. Both figure to play pretty significant minutes in the Pacers’ rotation this year. More important than the Pacers’ acquisitions, though, were their retentions. Indiana kept center Roy Hibbert and point guard George Hill, both of whom will start this season.
And speaking of starting, the Pacers’ first five looks pretty good: Hill, an emerging star in Paul George, Danny Granger, David West and Hibbert comprise one of the East’s most balanced starting units. The Pacers are no joke.
Last year, the Pacers took both contests with the Warriors, with Danny Granger leading a balanced attack in scoring both times. Indiana is a disciplined, shrewdly constructed squad. They were simply better than Golden State last year in every phase, and those two games turned out the way they should have.
The point guard situation will be an interesting one in Indiana this year. Without Collison, George Hill is slated to start. And while he’s an excellent two-way guard, he’s really not a conventional distributor. That might mean D.J. Augustin sees a lot more minutes at the point, with Hill sliding over the the off-guard spot. Indiana won’t want to take George or Granger off the floor much, so basically, they’re likely to play small on the perimeter.
And that’ll be fun for Golden State, because for once, they’ll have a size advantage at the guard positions. Hooray! I wonder what that’ll feel like. Klay Thompson will be able to post up and/or shoot right over the top of Hill and Curry will be able to easily get his shots up over the tiny Augustin. If Indiana goes small, it’ll be a big advantage for the Warriors, who in the past, were always the team fighting an uphill battle against bigger opponents.
Threat Level: 8/10
The Pacers aren’t at the level of the East’s elite—Miami, a healthy Chicago or Boston—but they’re really good. And they’re extremely tough, with Hibbert, Hansbrough and West up front. Plus, Granger has always given the Warriors fits. They’re a matchup problem if they play big, but could be exploited if they play two small guards at once.