While they have been able to pull out wins, there have been some issues that they need to work on as the season progresses. That being said, they are still 2-0 and can be happy that they've started off the season with two wins.
There are five things in particular that can be taken from the Pacers' first two basketball games:
1. Paul George Is the Man
Due to the large contract he signed this past offseason, Paul George has quite a bit of pressure riding on him to produce big numbers. In the first two games, he has lived up to that contract and then some. He scored 24 points against the Magic and then carried the Pacers to a win against the New Orleans Pelicans by scoring 32 points.
Those two games are just the start of the season, obviously, but he's making things look so easy. There's no doubt that George will break out as a new NBA superstar as the season progresses with the improvement in his game that he has shown.
2. Roy Hibbert's Focus Is in the Right Place
While Hibbert hasn't put up good scoring numbers, his defense has been impressive to say the least. He blocked seven shots in the game vs. Orlando and blocked five more shots against the Pelicans. The Pacers aren't asking Hibbert to go out and score 15 points per night, but they are asking him to defend the rim and play the best defense that he can. His rebounding looks very good as well, as he has averaged 10 rebounds per game through the first two contests. If he's able to continue rebounding and playing defense at this rate, the Pacers are going to be great defensively once again.
3. Orlando Johnson Is a Key Contributor
One guy who wasn't talked about much at all heading into the regular season is swingman Orlando Johnson. He has been getting good minutes through the first two games and has played great basketball with those minutes.
While he scored only two points against the Pelicans last night, he still played great defense and fit well in the Indiana offense. Against the Magic, he showed off his ability to score the basketball, putting up nine points to help the Pacers pull off the win. Frank Vogel has said that he expects to give Johnson run until Danny Granger comes back, but, if he continues to play this well, he may continue to get minutes even after that.
4. Lance Stephenson Is Much-Improved
Lance Stephenson was expected to be a key piece for the Pacers this year, but not many people expected to see the type of basketball that Lance has played through the first couple games. He scored 19 points against the Magic on 8-12 shooting and followed that up with a 16-point performance against the Pelicans.
His three-point shot is much-improved, and he looks much more comfortable as a whole in the offense. His rebounding has been great as well, totaling 15 boards through the first two games. Last but not least, he's still a very good playmaker for his teammates. He has nine assists through the first two games and has been great pushing the basketball in transition as well. He's shown a lot more improvement than many expected and is putting on a show so far.
5. Question Mark Surrounding David West
David West hasn't played bad, but he also hasn't played up to the level that was expected from him. In the game against the Orlando Magic, West scored just 13 points on 4-11 shooting, but he did record five rebounds, five blocks, and three assists. Against the Pelicans, he recorded just 12 points on 3-11 shooting, but also had seven rebounds, five assists, and two more blocks. There is a question mark about his scoring so far, but he's finding ways to contribute outside of scoring points. Obviously, the Pacers need him to figure things out offensively for them to play their best basketball though.
Overall, the Pacers have to be happy with their 2-0 start. Finding a way to come back from a 16-point deficit last night to the Pelicans shows that they have a lot of resilience in their team, and that is a key factor for a championship contender. Paul George is living up to his potential and the Pacers have started the season off with a bang.
Evan Massey lives in Indianapolis and has followed the Indiana Pacers for the past 16 years. He has written for many sports websites including ProSportsExtra.com, Hoops-Nation.com, ProFootballSpot.com, and NaptownsFinest.com. Follow Evan on Twitter at @massey_evan.
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