Short and Sweet: Tim Donahue (@TimDonahue8p9s) of the TrueHoop Pacers Blog 8 Points, 9 Seconds, along with TAI’s Adam McGinnis (@AdamMcGinnis) and Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It) have three answers to three questions about tonight’s Wizards-Pacers game… Leggo.
#1) Indiana Pacers coach Frank Vogel is quoted as saying “coach coached teams don’t go very far, player-coached teams usually go on deep playoff runs.” But after a bad loss like the one Indiana had last night against short-handed New Jersey, should it be the head coach or one of the players who provides the motivation to keep that from happening against an equally short-handed Wizards team?
DONAHUE: The cure for what happened in New Jersey can only come from the players themselves. The loss in New Jersey had nothing to do with coaching or strategy, and everything to do with players simply not doing their jobs. They thought it would be easy. If you want one name, then it starts with Danny Granger, who was a microcosm of the whole team. But, everyone in a Pacer jersey was responsible for that failure last night.
McGINNIS: The average tenure of a NBA head coach is around three seasons, so with such a short leash granted to them, Vogel’s point has merit. Coaches have a major role in determining the offensive and defensive schemes along with dictating late game strategies and finding a productive rotation. However, the onus of pure motivation lies mostly on the players. Players respond better to their peers, who can lead vocally or by example. Coaches can put the players in the correct positions to succeed but it is the players who must execute and adapt quickly to game situations on the fly. The words of David West will be more poignant to his teammates than anything Coach Vogel will cook up to get them focused tonight for a bounce back performance against the Wizards.
WEIDIE: I’m not sure what type of coach Vogel is, but if I were him, I’d play some mind games… choose the player most likely to respond well to yelling and call him out. Hopefully the rest will follow… and it may be a scary proposition, but I’m getting in the faces of Tyler Hansbrough and Dahntay Jones. If Psycho-T and a former Dookie can’t come out snarling, as neither of their No. 1-seeded NCAA Tournament teams made it to the Final Four, then who can?
#2) Nene (6 points, 5 rebounds) got dominated by Roy Hibbert (19 points, 9 rebounds) last time. Nene or not (he’s iffy with back spasms), do the Wizards have any chance of countering the first-time All-Star big man?
DONAHUE: If the Wizards commit to taking Hibbert away, they can do it. They’ll have to aggressively double, and challenge the entry passes. The Pacer offense is designed to move the ball around, and while that could hurt an aggressively doubling defense … if done right … it also means that the Pacers will move away from Hibbert relatively easily. If Washington can make it hard for Hibbert to get touches early, there’s a good chance he won’t be a factor for the whole game.
McGINNIS: In the four games that Nene has played for the Wizards, one was a resounding win over Nets in his Washington debut, and the other three games were losses marred by Washington coughing up comfortable leads. His presence will be crucial in order for the Wizards to be competitive versus the Pacers’ frontline of Hibbert, David West and Tyler Hansbrough. With playing status of Nene and Trevor Booker up in the air (note: they will play), Kevin Seraphin and Jan Vesely must be up to the task of neutralizing the Pacers big men. During the Pacers comeback victory last week, Hibbert had seven points and four rebounds in the point quarter, including several key buckets in crunch time. Seraphin must do a good job of post defense denial because Hibbert is almost automatic when catching the ball deep in the paint. Hibbert will get his but Seraphin will use his big body to put up a valiant fight.
WEIDIE: Hibbert is a much, much better NBA player than I ever thought he would be, but are you still telling me that Wizards like Seraphin, Booker and Nene, who can at times hold their own against Dwight Howard, can’t better neutralize Hibbert with leverage and a low-center of gravity? They’d better…
#3) Indy is favored by 10.5 points… Do they cover? What stat most affects the game and which player most affects that stat (good or bad)?
DONAHUE: I’m going to say yes. The Pacers are an odd team in that they don’t really play a lot of close games. Eighteen of their 29 wins have been by 10 or more points. Only Miami and Philly have higher percentages. Eleven of their 19 losses have been by 10 or more points. That’s top third in the league. From a game statistic point of view, the best indicator for the Pacers is always their defensive field goal percentage, as it’s the driver of their defense.
McGINNIS: The difference-making statistic in their earlier match up was offensive rebounds, as the Pacers dominated the Wizards 14-5 in that category. Indiana tapped out numerous balls out late, essentially keeping the Wizards on defense throughout the last two minutes. In order for the Wizards to have a shot at victory, they must hit 3-point shots at a high clip. This is important due to a lack of inside scorers and opponents’ defenses are geared up to limit Washington’s transition game. If the Wizards can drain 8 to 12 long range bombs, they will have an opportunity to pull off the upset. Unfortunately, Jordan Crawford will continue to gun away with his low 3-point shooting and (27%), making this prediction likely moot. The safe bet is to take the Pacers minus the points.
WEIDIE: With both Nene and Booker evidently starting, I’m going to say the Wizards cover the spread, but lose. The key stat? Offensive rebounding. The Wizards have toughness, but as a team, they don’t yet have someone who brings the infectious tenacity of a Tyler Hansbrough. Indy takes the game over Washington 98-89.