Brogdon Set to Return on Monday

Nov 24, 2019 - Pacers point guard Malcolm Brogdon says he will play Monday after missing the past three games with a sore lower back. Brogdon and Nate McMillan discuss Brogdon's return.

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Brogdon Set to Return on Monday

Nov 24, 2019 - Pacers point guard Malcolm Brogdon says he will play Monday after missing the past three games with a sore lower back. Brogdon and Nate McMillan discuss Brogdon's return.
Nov 24, 2019  |  01:47

Notebook: Brogdon to Play Against Memphis

by Mark Montieth
Pacers.com Writer
@MarkMontieth

Malcolm Brogdon wasted no time. Didn't need a series of questions to extract the bottom line.

Asked simply how he was feeling following the Pacers practice at St. Vincent Center on Sunday, he said, "I feel great. I'm going to play tomorrow."

No listing him as questionable, no gametime decision, no hesitation or doubt whatsoever.

Brogdon had missed the past three games with a back strain suffered at Houston on Nov. 15. It was a mysterious injury, the source of which couldn't be detected on video. He said Sunday he believes he stepped awkwardly and strained a muscle and possibly a joint.

He returned to working out lightly with the Pacers on Thursday, wearing sweat pants instead of shorts, and shot around on the court before Saturday's game against Orlando, in which he nearly played, he said.

He described himself as 100 percent for Monday's game against Memphis, in which he'll be matched up against the Grizzlies' flamboyant rookie, Ja Morant. The 20-year-old who entered the NBA draft after two seasons at Murray State is averaging 19.1 points while hitting 42 percent of his 3-pointers and six assists, but also a rookie-like 3.9 turnovers.

The Pacers won two of their three games without Brogdon, losing to Milwaukee and then defeating Brooklyn and Orlando. Aaron Holiday, who replaced Brogdon at point guard in the starting lineup, was instrumental in both victories. After hitting just 5-of-18 shots against the Bucks — a typical performance in a game in which the Pacers hit just 32 percent of their field goal attempts — Holiday posted career-highs in scoring (23) and assists (13) against the Nets and had 13 points and hit the game's biggest shots against the Magic.

"It's really going to help us down the line," Brogdon said. "It's important for him to get his reps at the beginning of the season to get his confidence going."

Brogdon returns to the Pacers as their leading scorer (19.2), one-tenth of a percentage point ahead of Domantas Sabonis. He's also averaging 8.2 assists and 2.9 turnovers, although his numbers all took a hit when he played just nine minutes at Houston. He's the NBA's best foul shooter, having hit 48-of-49 free throws (.980), but his 3-point percentage (.308) is far off last season's career-best (.426).

With Jeremy Lamb and T.J. McConnell having returned for Saturday's game, the Pacers will have their healthiest roster since Opening Night. Victor Oladipo, JaKarr Sampson, and Edmond Sumner are the only injured players.

On the Rebound

The Pacers were outrebounded in their first four games, by dwindling margins. Since then, they've controlled the boards in eight of their 11 games. The exceptions were a (1) tie with Washington when Myles Turner didn't play and Sabonis fouled out after 28 minutes, (2) a two-rebound deficit to Houston and (3) a one-rebound deficit to Milwaukee, the NBA's top rebounding team.

Sabonis ranks fourth in the league with a 13.4 rebounding average. If that holds up, he'll have the best average in the Pacers' NBA history. Troy Murphy currently ranks first with an 11.8 average in the 2008-09 season.

The improvement has mostly been the result of an improved team effort, with the guards and wings consistently outrebounding their matchups. Saturday's victory over Orlando offered an example. Jeremy Lamb (5), T.J. McConnell (5), and Aaron Holiday (4) all pitched in.

Brogdon's return should further improve the rebounding. He averages 4.8 per game, which is good for a point guard.

"Domas has been a monster on the boards and we've done a better job of gang rebounding as opposed to (assuming) the bigs are going to rebound for us," McMillan said.

The Pacers haven't outrebounded opponents over the course of the season since 2014-15. They currently average 2.8 more rebounds per game despite the absence of Sabonis in two games and Turner in eight.

Threes Still Needed

The Pacers have been one of the NBA's better three-point shooting teams in recent years, but have yet to achieve that status this season. They're shooting .348, the 21st-best percentage. They've been outscored by 105 points behind the arc.

Improvement could come from regression to the mean. Brogdon, Sabonis, T.J. Warren, and Lamb all are shooting well below last season's percentage.

Myles Turner has been the Pacers' best 3-point shooter (.438) followed by Doug McDermott (.413) and Aaron Holiday (.412). T.J. Leaf has shown signs of recovering from last season's drop-off, having hit 5-of-10 3-pointers, including three of his previous four. Rookie Goga Bitadze also shows signs of becoming a threat, having hit .364.


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 on the formation and groundbreaking seasons of the Pacers, "Reborn: The Pacers and the Return of Pro Basketball to Indianapolis," is available in bookstores throughout Indiana and on Amazon.com.

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.

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