NBA Season Restart 2019-20

2019-20 Season Reset: Indiana Pacers

2019-20 Season Reset: Pacers

The 2019-20 NBA season went on hiatus on March 11 because of the coronavirus pandemic . The season will return on July 30 and‘s writers are taking an updated look at each of the league’s 30 teams.

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Record: 39-26, No. 5 in Eastern Conference

Season summary: You can almost write it in the books in ink each fall. The Pacers would overachieve, finish above .500 and go home after one round of the playoffs. It’s not that they plan it that way, it’s just that the pattern has led to a certain ceiling on expectations. Indiana will get a chance to show whether or not that is true, though, as one of the 22 teams taking part in 2019-20’s season restart. The move to use both Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis as starters was an early adjustment more challenging for the former. The additions of guard Malcolm Brogdon — handling the offense in Victor Oladipo’s ongoing absence — and wing T.J. Warren were key.

Breakout player: The Pacers picked up Warren for scoring and he has provided that (18.7 points per game). But his ability and eagerness to demonstrate two-way ability has been a big bonus. Coach Nate McMillan has been sticking Warren without reservation on opponents’ top scorers, memorably when he and Jimmy Butler tangled on Jan. 8. Too bad we missed (for now) their rematches originally set for March 20 and April 7.

Statement win: Off to their worst start since 2015, the Pacers were 0-3 when they went into Brooklyn on Oct. 30. They trailed at halftime, too, and lost Turner in the first half. But the other four starters all scored 20 or more and Indiana scored 28 points off the Nets’ 20 turnovers for a 118-108 victory. That changed the Pacers’ trajectory, sparking seven victories in eight games.

Most exciting game: Oladipo, the Pacers’ vocal and on-court leader, had missed precisely 82 games when he returned Jan. 29 from a ruptured right quadriceps injury. It was an emotional night for Pacers fans at their Fieldhouse, made more so when Oladipo drained a 3-pointer from 28 feet with 10 seconds left to force overtime against the Bulls. The home team wound up outscoring Chicago 22-6 to win 115-106.

Memorable moments: Oladipo’s return was special, but so was the Pacers’ decision on Feb. 10 against the Nets to, yes, mix in some zone defense. Bold move for a team built on man-to-man, but five straight losses made Indiana desperate. It lost that night, too, but added a new wrinkle to mix in mostly out of timeouts or side-inbounds plays.

Team MVP: Sabonis, a 23-year-old descended from basketball royalty (son of Hall of Famer Euro legend Arvydas), moved into the starting lineup and earned his first All-Star selection. Sabonis set a Pacers record with 50 double-doubles and, after getting his first-ever triple-double on Jan. 19, he had four by the season’s hiatus.

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Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

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