Shootaround: McMillan on Cory Joseph, Hawks Matchup

February 23, 2018 - During shootaround on Friday, Pacers head coach Nate McMillan talked about Cory Joseph's performance while filling in for the injured Darren Collison, and the team's matchup with the Atlanta Hawks.

Pregame 180223

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Shootaround: McMillan on Cory Joseph, Hawks Matchup

February 23, 2018 - During shootaround on Friday, Pacers head coach Nate McMillan talked about Cory Joseph's performance while filling in for the injured Darren Collison, and the team's matchup with the Atlanta Hawks.
Feb 23, 2018  |  02:26

Pacers Seeking Strong Start to Closing Stretch

Feb. 22, 2018 - Coming out of the All-Star break and with 24 games remaining in the regular season, the Indiana Pacers are preparing themselves for a playoff push.
Feb 22, 2018  |  02:48

Pacers Anticipating the Return of Glenn Robinson III

February 21, 2018 - After missing the entire season to date with left ankle surgery, the Pacers are expecting Glenn Robinson III to return to the lineup on Friday night against the Hawks. Robinson III spoke about his rehab and Victor Oladipo and Pacers head coach Nate McMillan explained what Robinson III can bring to the lineup.
Feb 21, 2018  |  02:33

Trey McKinney Jones on Signing 10-Day Contract

Feb. 21, 2018 - Trey McKinney Jones discusses signing a 10-day contract with the Pacers. McKinney Jones was invited to training camp with Indiana and has spent this season playing for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants in the NBA G League.
Feb 21, 2018  |  02:21

Rehab's Over, Robinson's Ready to Go

by Mark Montieth
Pacers.com Writer
@MarkMontieth

He could barely contain his excitement. The words spilled out rapid-fire, tumbling over one another in joyful bursts as he discussed the long-awaited arrival of a big day. But then it's difficult to talk when you're smiling so much.

"I'm ready to go," Glenn Robinson III said, over and over again, following the Pacers' practice at St. Vincent Center on Wednesday.

You can't blame Robinson for his kid-on-Christmas-Eve impersonation, given the wayward journey he's traveled during a season that held so much promise for him. He entered training camp on Sept. 26 off a promising finish to last season and penciled in as the backup small forward, destined for rotation minutes. Three days later, a Friday, he damaged ligaments in his left ankle after landing awkwardly following a dunk attempt. He had surgery on Oct. 13, with an initial prognosis of an eight-week rehabilitation period.

And now, finally, on Friday, he'll put on a game uniform — a Pacers uniform at that — when Atlanta visits Bankers Life Fieldhouse for the resumption of play following the All-Star break.

Robinson is more than ready to go. He's the kid on Christmas Eve, full of pent-up anticipation following the protracted recovery period for the first major injury of his career.

He spent most of the All-Star break in Phoenix, gathered with the Pacers' physical therapist Dan Dyrek, his personal training coach Joey Burton and Pacers director of sports performance Shawn Windle. It had to be done there or Los Angeles because of Dyrek's schedule, and Robinson "wanted to stay away from the chaos" of Los Angeles over All-Star Weekend.

They met at the Suns' practice facility for workouts and rehabilitation. While it might sound odd for an NBA team to make its facilities available for an opposing team's player, it's more common than people might think.

"That shows you the brotherhood in the league," Robinson said.

Robinson completed his rehab process by taking a conditioning test at St. Vincent Center on Tuesday, running five lengths of the floor four times. He aced it, easily finishing within the required target time, and couldn't wait to tell coach Nate McMillan about it.

"I went in there and told him I passed it and had a lot of room left," Robinson recalled. "I'm definitely ready to play; I'm excited. I talked to him and, like I say, I'm not sure where he's going to play me or how many minutes, but like I said hopefully he still believes in me and hopefully gives me the opportunity."

Robinson played two games for the Pacers' G League affiliate in Fort Wayne at the start of this month, but showed the impact of his injury and layoff. He averaged just 11 points on 31 percent shooting in 30.5 minutes per game. McMillan and the Pacers' front office executives didn't believe he was ready to join the Pacers then, but saw a more aggressive and confident player in practice on Wednesday.

"Today when he walked out on the floor he looked like the old Glenn," McMillan said. "He looked like the Glenn who walked into training camp.

McMillan said he'll play Robinson about five minutes against the Hawks — 10 minutes, tops. Robinson, meanwhile, says he's ready for anything and everything. He doesn't just plan to fit in, however, he expects to be vastly improved from the player who last season started 27 of the 69 games in which he played, averaged 6.1 points and served notice of his athleticism and confidence by winning the Slam Dunk contest over All-Star Weekend.

"Overall as a player, I'm two times a better player than last year," he said. "It's crazy, because I spent so much time away from the game, but I actually think that that helped me; helped me a lot. Everything happens for a reason."

Robinson became a student of the game during his recovery process, watching hours of video and taking advantage of his front row seat at games. He says the game has slowed down for him, and that he believes he'll make better decisions with nuances such as dribbling off ball screens.

When he's back in game shape and able to handle a steady diet of backup minutes, he expects to be a major contributor in a variety of ways. He'll add length and quickness on defense, speed in transition and a perimeter shooting threat. He hit 39 percent of his 3-point attempts last season, 50 percent over the final 25 regular season games.

"The No. 1 thing is defense," he said. "I've talked to all the coaches about that. I think I can be another defender for this team, but on the offensive end I can space the floor and knock down shots. I think the biggest thing is my ability to run the floor and play off others."

McMillan believes Robinson can complete the nine-man rotation he planned before training camp began, and put all the pieces in their proper place. Cory Joseph can eventually focus on backing up Darren Collison (who will be out another week or so while recovering from knee surgery) at point guard. Lance Stephenson can back up Victor Oladipo at shooting guard. Robinson can back up Bojan Bogdanovic at small forward. Ideally, players will have to slide over to another position and get caught in mismatches less often.

Minutes will be trimmed here and there to make room for Robinson, which will have the added benefit of keeping legs fresher for the playoffs but will test some of the players' attitudes.

"Guys are going to have to make some sacrifices," McMillan said.

"There's not a lot of minutes, but with this group...guys who are playing well, we let them play. We've had guys who have played well and we leave them out there. This has been a selfless group in that they allow guys to play when they're playing well."

Now McMillan has another option. A new one, but a familiar one. Because of his season-long absence, Robinson arrives like a free agent acquisition, someone who adds without subtracting anything. But because of his longstanding relationship with his teammates, he's like an old hand who won't need a lengthy break-in period.

"He's another versatile player we can use on the wing," Oladipo said. "It's huge for us. Another talent to add to the puzzle. And it's not like he hasn't been around. Once he gets in there, the chemistry is going to be the same.

"I'm just happy for him. He's been through a lot this year."


Have a question for Mark? Want it to be on Pacers.com? Email him at askmontieth@gmail.com and you could be featured in his next mailbag.

Mark Montieth's book, "Reborn: The Pacers and the Return of Pro Basketball to Indianapolis," covers the formation and early seasons of the franchise. It is available at retail outlets throughout Indiana and online at sources such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Indiana Pacers. All opinions expressed by Mark Montieth are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Indiana Pacers, their partners, or sponsors.