Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
The Pacers lost two to the Rockets in the NBA’s Global Games. Any concern there? What, other than injuries, could go wrong for Indiana?
Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: Not short-selling them yet, but the Pacers do face a few challenges (don’t they all?). Their shooting isn’t very bankable, turning a higher percentage of their possessions into grinds. Paul George, after his coming-out season, will face game-planning like never before, a fresh hurdle. A second straight year of “insta-bench,” hurriedly building cohesion in the second unit, asks a lot of any team. Veteran forward Danny Granger might not return healthy and productive enough to A) offer much help or B) be very marketable. And coach Frank Vogel and his guys have yet to stub their toes in a step-by-step advancement toward The Finals — this spring would be a lousy time to start.
Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: Other than a mild ankle sprain suffered by George Hill, no harm was done. Indiana and Houston played hard in both games, but the Pacers went with a mostly vanilla attack offensively. The only thing that could derail the Pacers is an assumption that since they pushed the Heat to Game 7 in the East finals last spring, they’re entitled to get back there. I just don’t see that happening. They’re for real and in it for the long haul.
Jeff Caplan, NBA.com: Two preseason losses in the Philippines and Taiwan to a Houston team that was already pretty good before Dwight Howard? Please. The Pacers have new personnel to work into the rotation and that includes former starter and All-Star Danny Granger. Indy will be fine. It’s a process. If the regular season was a book we’d be skimming through the Introduction. Can we at least get into Chapter 1 before we start making up concerns? But since you asked what could go wrong … well, Indianapolis could be attacked by aliens or St. Elmo Steak House could go vegan. Indy is going to be very good. The serious answer for what could wrong? LeBron James and/or Derrick Rose.
Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: I no more am concerned about the Pacers based on two exhibition games than I am anointing the Rockets the favorites in June because Houston beat the team that nearly won the East last season. What could go wrong for Indiana? Easy. Miami could go right. That is still the biggest obstacle to Indy taking the next step. The Pacers are good. I like their chances to recover from the massive setback in October.
John Schuhmann, NBA.com: They lost two preseason games?!?! Blow it up! But seriously folks, the Pacers’ priorities in the preseason should be helping Danny Granger get comfortable on the floor again and developing a second unit that can perform better than the one they had last season. The results — wins, losses, field goal percentage, defensive breakdowns, etc. — don’t matter right now. It’s a process and what matters is how the Pacers play in April and May. Other than health, their primary concern is the same as it was last season: turnovers. They have to find a way to move the ball without coughing it up.
Sekou Smith, NBA.com: Absolutely none! It’s preseason, man. Relax. The only glitch for a team as well-stocked as the Pacers is an injury to the wrong guy. They survived and thrived without Danny Granger last season. So they already know how to deal with that sort of adversity. So no, I’m not ready to scrap my prediction of the Eastern Conference order of power after two (meaningless) exhibition losses.
Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blog: Wasn’t there a question last week about seeing an overblown headline sometime soon? I think we may have found it! Joking aside, I do think the Pacers will have a more challenging road ahead of them this season than last year. Now that everyone else saw them come within one win of the NBA Finals, opposing teams will target them the way they would any other real contender every single night. And though they have a better roster than they had last season, I wouldn’t be surprised if it takes them some time to come together and figure which rotations work best. But losing two games after flying halfway around the globe does not bother me.
Akshay Manwani, NBA.com/India: No concern. It’s the preseason, not the playoffs. If we were to go strictly by results now, the New Orleans Pelicans, winners of four straight, could well be handed the Larry O’Brien trophy. But that’s not what this is. The Pacers still have to figure things out, whether Danny Granger will play coming off the bench or form part of the starting unit. And there could be other blips — their offseason moves don’t give them required results or that any one of their starting five from last year suffers a dip in form. But I would still watch them over the first couple of months before sounding the alarm.
Adriano Albuquerque, NBA.com/Brazil: Not at all. First, I know we write for the NBA and all and maybe we shouldn’t let this badly kept secret out … but results from the preseason don’t matter. Second, the Rockets were basically playing at home there, all eyes were on Howard and Lin, so you knew both would bring their A-game. Third, the Rockets are looking like one of the stronger teams in the league, so if you can’t beat them in October, it’s OK. Once the real games start, the Pacers will show their real face.