Practice: McMillan on Rematch with Mavs, Team's Health

Feb. 25, 2018 - Pacers head coach Nate McMillan discusses Monday's game in Dallas against a Mavericks team that won in Indiana on Dec. 27 and give updates on Glenn Robinson III and Darren Collison.

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Practice: McMillan on Rematch with Mavs, Team's Health

Feb. 25, 2018 - Pacers head coach Nate McMillan discusses Monday's game in Dallas against a Mavericks team that won in Indiana on Dec. 27 and give updates on Glenn Robinson III and Darren Collison.
Feb 25, 2018  |  01:49

Pacers Discuss Improved Rebounding

Feb. 24, 2018 - After practice, Victor Oladipo and Nate McMillan met with the media and shared their thoughts on why the Pacers have been a better rebounding team as of late.
Feb 24, 2018  |  02:49

Pacers Rebounding From Poor Rebounding Efforts

by Mark Montieth Writer

The Pacers have outrebounded their previous four opponents, which is never a bad thing. They are 18-5 when doing so, a win percentage (.782) that if carried throughout the season to this point would give them the best record in the NBA.

Nate McMillan isn't yet convinced, though. His team was outrebounded in 11 consecutive games before the about-face, and ranks just 20th in the league in rebounding rate. In other words, it's too early to hand out trophies for toughness.

"It could be the teams we're playing," McMillan said.

It is, partially. Two of the Pacers' past for opponents, Atlanta and Brooklyn, rank below them in rebounding rate, which takes into consideration the number of shots taken in a game and the percentage of the shots that were missed. New York, however, is fifth, and Boston 15th.

So, there's been improvement, but not enough of it to declare anything.

"We've been saying since training recover to the paint and rebound the ball," McMillan said following Saturday's practice session at St. Vincent Center. "This is not just something we've just started to talk about. I don't know. I think our guys are making an effort to recover to the paint and help our bigs on the boards."

Given the number of 3-point shots taken in NBA games these days, rebounding has to be a team effort because of the number of missed shots that sail over the heads of the taller players toward the guards and small forwards. A term heard with increasing frequency is "gang rebounding," as in, "We're just going a great job of gang rebounding," which is how Victor Oladipo put it on Saturday to explain the team's improvement.

It's true. Although Domantas Sabonis grabbed 13 rebounds in Friday's 116-93 victory over Atlanta — a game in which the Pacers controlled the boards 57-40 — the guards made the difference. Joe Young, the third point guard in the rotation when everyone is healthy, grabbed eight defensive rebounds in 22 minutes. Lance Stephenson, a backup wing, also had eight. Oladipo had seven. Starting forwards Thaddeus Young and Bojan Bogdanovic, meanwhile, combined for seven in their 63 total minutes.

That means the guards are getting into the paint or thereabouts and grabbing their share of rebounds. The other positive, however, has been the work of Myles Turner, who has demonstrated a more physical approach in recent games.

Turner grabbed eight rebounds in just 22 minutes on Friday. He had 14 at Brooklyn in the final game before the All-Star break, matching his season-high against the Nets in the season opener. Turner is averaging 6.7 rebounds per game, 1.6 fewer than Sabonis despite playing 2 1/2 more minutes per game than Sabonis.

Over the previous eight games, however, Turner has averaged 8.1 rebounds, a number dragged down by a three-rebound effort against Philadelphia when he played just 15 minutes. Turner has had double-figure rebounding games three times in that stretch, which is where McMillan believes he belongs.

"I think he should be a double-double guy," McMillan said. "With the number of minutes that he plays, making an effort not only to score but to go in and get some rebounds.

"I think it's something he has to get better at. Being that guy to show the physicality, to bang and go in and get the ball is something that hasn't been a strength of his."

Turner doesn't argue the point.

"It's something I need to continue to (improve)," he said before the All-Star break. "The last couple games my mindset has been to crash the boards.

"I'd still like to see my numbers go up more. If I can get in double digits that's a good night for me. I need to do that more."

McMillan lists rebounding as an emphasis for his players every day on his dry-erase board, and he made it part of his practice schedule when his players regathered for practice on Thursday in what amounted to a training camp-like session. It's difficult, however, to do that very often during an NBA season, when rest and limiting the risk of injuries are often a team's focus.

That, in fact, was the plan Saturday for the Pacers' two participants in All-Star Weekend, Oladipo and Sabonis. Neither participated in practice other than shooting, spending the afternoon relaxing and getting treatment.

"We put them on ice," McMillan said.

McMillan wanted to do so on Thursday, but Oladipo didn't cooperate.

"You've got to kick that guy out of the gym," McMillan said. "He wouldn't sit down. So, we kicked both him and Domas out of the gym."

Oladipo said fatigue from his busy All-Star Weekend factored into his 5-of-16 shooting performance on Friday, but doesn't believe it will be an issue going forward. Not that he's ever acknowledged the existence of anything that could be construed as negative.

"I'll try to sneak some rest in," he said.

"I'll be just fine."

Oladipo said he was considering seeing the movie Black Panther for the third time Saturday evening, but also put out a tweet asking for a recommendation for a bowling alley. He claims a best bowling score of 227. And he doesn't believe it would counter McMillan's desire to give him some rest.

"I'm just going to stand there and throw the ball," he said. "I like being active, so..."

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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.