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What's The Big Deal About The Small Lineup?

by Conrad Brunner || Caught in the Web Archive

January 5, 2011

There is much wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth, at least in the world of talk radio and fan forums, about Jim O'Brien's decision to begin employing a small lineup.

Frankly, I'm not sure what the fuss is all about. He didn't say he was going to start a small lineup every game – although he probably will on occasion when matchups dictate – but rather he would begin using that group on a more regular basis.

To which I must say: How is this a big deal?

The small lineup was a major option last season. In fact, the Pacers were 5-5 when they started Danny Granger at power forward with Roy Hibbert at center. That may not sound like much until you consider they were 27-45 with all other combinations.

The only surprise is JOB waited this long to pull this particular arrow out of the quiver. He has shown admirable commitment to the McRoberts/Hibbert combination, even as both have struggled to produce.

And here's another stat to consider: the Pacers' starting lineups have been outscored in 12 consecutive games by an average of 11 points. In that span, the starters combined to average just 60 points per game.

It's pretty clear, then, something had to be done and going small plays to the strength of the roster -- depth and talent at the wing positions.

Though it probably means fewer minutes for Tyler Hansbrough, the small lineup creates much greater opportunity for Paul George and maybe even Lance Stephenson.

No matter what combination the coach uses, somebody's going to be left out and fans of that player (or players) are going to complain.

Ultimately, all that matters is the result. And JOB has good reasons to believe the small lineup will shake the Pacers out of their offensive funk.