Things are looking much better for the Indiana Pacers now than a few weeks aho, when they stumbled to a 0-5 start out of the preason gate. After smashing the Dallas Mavs (a team that beat them in one of those five games) 98-77, the Pacers have won their last three preseason games by blowout and appear to be ready to head into the regular season opener against the Orlando Magic next Tuesday.
There was a lot to like in this game, and the biggest positive was the play of Paul George, who scored 28 points on 12-22 shooting to go with his 6 rebounds, 6 assists and steals. Those are superstar numbers right there, and it was the way he did it, in 34 minutes of play, that impressed me the most. He just took over the game when he had to (though it helped that VInce Carter was guarding him) and he did it with supreme confidence. I knew PG24 has talked big since the Pacers were ousted from the playoffs last season, about him taking his game to the next level, but he really appears to be heading in that direction.
Apart from the Cleveland game where he scored 9 points, PG has shot at least 50% from the field in all six other preason games. For the record, his preseason field goal percentage was 50.5%, nearly 10% higher than his 41.9% from last season. His 36-minute averages for the preseason are: 24.1 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.7 steals per game, and there's a good chance he'll play around 38 minutes or more per game this season. Throw in his top-3 wing defender defense and that's a bona fide two-way superstar right there. Of course, this is just the preseason and the Pacers have plenty of scoring options to go around, so it's unlikely George will score that many points in the regular season. But I don't think it's a stretch to imagine that he will average 20+ over 82 games if he can stay healthy.
As for the rest of the team, Roy Hibbert finally put together a strong offensive game and had 14 points and 8 rebounds, while George Hill had 12 points. CJ Watson was the only other double-digit scorer with 10, though Luis Scola did come close with 8 on 4-5 shooting in just 18 minutes.
Chis Copeland unfortunately is still struggling with his shot, missing all 4 of his shots from the outside. The Pacers signed him for his outside shooting but so far he hasn't found it. I don't think last year was a fluke, so I guess we'll just have to be patient and wait for him to find his stroke again.
Anyway, I'll try and find some time for a Pacers season preview in the next day or two. Stay tuned.