The Utah Jazz’s Weird, Wonderful 12-4 Start

During the COVID-mandated shutdown of the NBA during the spring and early summer of 2020, the Utah Jazz were at the center of a firestorm of rumors and controversy involving NBA Patient Zero Rudy Gobert, his alleged beef with fellow COVID patient Donovan Mitchell, and the potential breakup of a Jazz team that had found itself in “good but not quite good enough” territory over the past couple of years, a team that seemed to suffer from the second-round-ceiling problem that inevitably leads to tough decisions being made when the team can’t become a true contender. Today, January 24, 2021, …

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Victor Oladipo: Pacers Postmortem

After coming back from a ruptured quadriceps tendon, the injury that ended Charles Barkley‘s career, Victor Oladipo was, measured by VORP, the worst player on the entire Indiana Pacers team in 2020. His minus-0.2 VORP in 552 minutes combined with a pathetic .002 WS/48, lower than anyone on the team who played more than 50 minutes all season. And while the counting stats people could point at Vic’s 20 points per game in his first nine games with the Pacers before being, in the grand scheme of things, traded for Caris LeVert as a side effect of the James Harden …

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“Threes And Layups”: The Evolution of NBA Offense In One Stat

On this here site, D’Antoni Index has become a catch-all stat for measuring “modern” NBA offense. If the goal is to shoot your outside shots from 3-point land, your inside shots inside the restricted area, and to draw lots of fouls, adding up the rate at which teams accrue such things must by definition measure how well teams are achieving that goal. What’s more, what constitutes a “high” 3PAR, for example, has radically changed over the year. For example, the Indiana Pacers, through games of January 17, 2021, stand 21st in 3PAR at .373; the majority of NBA teams take …

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The James Harden Trade Or: COVID-19, Brooklyn Nets 0

Man, what a time for the power to go out. Yesterday, while your intrepid columnist was sitting in the dark waiting for Puget Sound Energy to get to me among the 400,000 other customers who lost power in the Seattle area thanks to a huge windstorm that blew through—tip your waitress, I’m here all week—Tuesday night, the Brooklyn Nets, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, and Cleveland Cavaliers worked out a bombshell of a four-team trade that (functionally) sent James Harden to Brooklyn, Victor Oladipo to Houston, Caris LeVert to Indiana, and Jarrett Allen to Cleveland. Sure, there were some other players …

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What Is Going On with the Indiana Pacers’ Defense?

The Indiana Pacers lost twice in the past week, first a 125-117 loss to the Suns on Saturday and then a 127-122 loss at Sacramento Monday night. That’s 252 points in two games, dropping Indiana’s overall Defensive Rating down to 16th in the league after a great start to the season (one that was on display in a 114-107 win over Houston Wednesday, the third game since the last time this site talked about Indiana basketball last Tuesday) and worse, squandering a couple of solid offensive performances that generated 239 points in 96 minutes of play. The Suns got their …

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An Open Letter to #NBATwitter

Since the dawn of my basketball writing journey in 2015, I’ve relied heavily on social media in general and Twitter in particular to drive content decisions, engage with fans, and watch the culture of basketball unfold in order to keep my finger on the pulse of what’s going on. In particular, every friend I have in Indiana, I met on Twitter—even though I’m a dyed-in-the-wool, heart-on-my-sleeve Pacers fan through and through, as readers of this site learn time and again every Tuesday, my only actual connection to the Hoosier State is a girl from Elkhart I was sweet on for …

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Nate Bjorkgren Beat the Pelicans. Nate McMillan Would’ve Lost.

When the Indiana Pacers lost to the New York Knicks on January 2, they did so in a way that ticked all the boxes for how good teams lose games, and as such presented little cause for alarm. After all, Indiana took 50 of their 84 field goal attempts from long range, connected on 38 percent of them for a .570 eFG% from that distance, and took good care of the ball, turning the ball over just eight times. Unfortunately, it simply wasn’t enough to stop a Knicks squad that was able to attack the basket, hit 53.6 percent of …

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First-Mover Advantage: Why Basketball Games Don’t End 2-0

Consider the following two equal-but-opposite scenarios in sports. On one end, you have a penalty kick in top-flight, World Cup or elite European club league soccer. The offense, as in the guy who’s about to kick the ball, knows exactly where he intends to put the ball, can do so with a nearly pinpoint degree of accuracy as he’s practiced these kicks for hours on top of hours, and as a result has almost all the control over the ensuing result. The goalkeeper is nearly helpless; at best he can try to guess where the ball is going, leap at …

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5 NBA Teams Are 4-1. They’re Completely Different.

As the NBA heads into the 2021 calendar year, the 76ers, Pacers, Magic, Clippers, and Suns are all 4-1, tied for first in their respective conferences. Indeed, the Magic were the last unbeaten holdout, winning their first four games before losing to Philadelphia on New Year’s Eve. But if five games have taught us anything, there’s more than one way to win four out of five in professional basketball. Let’s take a look at the five best teams in the league as of ten days into the season and see what they have in common…and what makes no sense about …

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The Indiana Pacers’ Amazing 2-Point Efficiency

The Indiana Pacers finally fell out of the ranks of the NBA’s unbeatens Tuesday night when the Boston Celtics avenged a last-second loss in Beantown by mounting an impressive 33-17 fourth quarter to sneak a 116-111 win out of Bankers Life Fieldhouse. And while the Pacers have struggled to find the touch from beyond the arc (their 30.3 percent shooting from long range is third-worst in the league and has led to a gun-shy .331 3PAR that is less about offensive design and more about a lack of confidence in their shot), they have picked up three wins thanks mainly …

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