NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 29: TJ McConnell # 9, Justin Holiday # 8 and Jeremy Lamb # 26 of the ... Indiana Pacers in action against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center on October 29, 2021 in New York. (Photo by Mike Stobe / Images) Images
Inconsistent, wobbly and uninspired have been words used to describe the 2021-22 Indiana Pacers throughout their current season.
At their best, the Pacers look electric. They've already had wins against strong teams like the Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls and Utah Jazz this year, and more than half of their wins have been in double digits. Blue and gold are a strength when they play the way they want.
But that doesn't always happen. Indiana has lost to the Pistons and lower Raptors this season, and in a loss to the Charlotte Hornets last week, the team looked so bad that head coach Rick Carlisle put his starters on the bench for the final 20 minutes of action. It's hard to get an idea of such an unpredictable team.
The Pacers are trying to become more stable though, and a word of the wordWhat has often been mentioned in their quest to achieve this is rhythm. The pace, or just the general speed of play, is something that is difficult to control but important to consider in every game. The Pacers are finding out the hard way.
"The exact pace of every game will be different, depending on the opponent," Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle said this season. "One thing we are learning about our team is that we have to play with momentum, we have to play with strength and we have to play freely.
Play for free and s Ensuring the Pacers control the speed of each game is a challenge. Each team has an ideal speed for their staff, and most teams do everything in their power to play at that perfect pace every night. Other evenings, the teams will createa game plan that will try to slow down a game against a fast team or speed up the pace against a slower team. There is no tempo pattern to play with, but teams try to control the speed of each match.
The goal is simple: to have the opposing team play at a speed that she doesn 't prefer. The team that can force their opponent to react at their own pace usually has an advantage because they dictate the flow of the game. This is easier said than done, but controlling the pace is vital for the success of the game. the team, and the Pacers are finding out.
“Controlling the pace doesn't always mean being slow. I think that means we control what we do, play the way we want to and don't allow the team to dictate how we play, "forward Justin Holiday said earlier this week. "It may mean not letting a team speed us up or, at the same time, let us slow down.entir. "
So far, the Pacers are ranked 21st in pace with 98.13 possessions per game, by " NBA.com . This is not a slow speed, but it is on purpose. “We have to play with the right kind of speed and we can't play frantically and willy-nilly. We've done a good job in the last two games, ”Carlisle explained this week.
This intentional, calculated speed is the result of learning blue and gold to control the rhythm. In some games, like their win over Utah, the Pacers tried to play fast and accelerate their opponent. The Jazz rank 19th in terms of pace and Indiana won this game by 11. In other cases, like in Sacramento, the Blue and Gold are trying to slow things down. The Kings are in 10th place, but the Pacers interrupted this game and won by 3. Controlli However, the pace has allowed the Pacers to win some games this season.
Such a strategy has also hurt the Pacers at times. The Pacers entered a track and field competition with the slower-paced Wizards and couldn't get enough saves to win, for example. Slowing down the game against the roughly average-ranked Portland was not up to the Pacers as they blew up a home stretch lead. It's not about playing at a pace that makes the other team uncomfortable, it's about controlling the pace in a way that gives the Pacers an advantage.
The Pacers slowed it down against the Blazers, but they did. not their playmaker, Malcom Brogdon, that night. He is essential in setting the appropriate pace for the team, and the Trail Blazers controlled this game in his absence.
“Our leaders, Malcom and T.J. [McConnell], did an excellent job either in making mytake the ball, either by pushing it themselves or by telling us when we need to slow it down, ”Holiday said.
Against the Wizards, Indiana didn't I didn't the starting goalkeeper Caris LeVert. Although Holiday didn't mention it specifically, LeVert is talented and has the ability to handle the ball to control the pace of a match. Without him, the Wizards were able to run on the ground and score 135 points.
Controlling pace is an art, and the Pacers are learning to create it. In general, when the game is played near the typical Pacers' tempo, they do well. Their average pace is around 98, and when the blues and golds finish a match with a number of possessions to " less than five of that number , they are 7-6. Playing your ideals game is comfortable, and it allows the team to control the game. 'elan.
CHARLOTTE, NORD CAROLINA - NOVEMBER 19: Justin Holiday # 8 of the Indiana Pacers heads to the cart ... against LaMelo Ball # 2 of the Charlotte Hornets during the first half of their game at Spectrum Center on November 19, 2021 in Charlotte, NC. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton / Images ) Images
"I think we have that control in the sense of knowing what to do and when and not being sped up, not being slowed down, doing what that we want to do and dictate the game the way we want, this has been good for using these last two games, "Holiday detailed after Indiana beat Chicago on Monday.
Often when the team is far from its practical speed, it is their own action that causes the gear shift. During the team's difficulties at the start of the season, they often accelerated. Four of the five The team 's first games were over 100 possessions, which is too fast for the Pacers' deliberate style. They lost three of those battles.
When the team went through a streak Of three straight losses last week, things were too slow. They enjoyed their quietest performance of the season against the Knicks, not recordingue 88 possessions in a loss earlier this month. It's too relaxed for blue and gold.
"The coach, you know, this road trip, he was driving us, calling the games, doing his job", Double All-Star Domantas Sabonis said of Carlisle. The many calls for play slowed down the team. "Today [Saturday, November 20 against New Orleans], he just said " I'll back off a bit and let you play your game. "I feel like it really helped a lot of players to be more themselves. "
Before that game against New Orleans, even Carlisle noted that the team was playing too slowly in the last few games." We can play faster. . We are 30th in the league, out of 30 teams, in rhythm after defensive saves. Which is really a questionable distinction, "he said. " We just have to make it a state of mind to do. get the ball to the ground faster and create a problemas quickly as possible, and create a good shot. It is certainly an emphasis. "
Whichever end of the rhythm spectrum the game ends up on, the Pacers are better with speed somewhere in the middle. In their two slowest games of the season, they lost. In three of their four games with the highest possession, they lost. But in the middle, the Pacers have their sweet spot, an area where they can pick up the pace after misses but still play with intention after hits. Indiana needs to keep that rhythm going every night.
"The more random we can play, the better," Carlisle said. “The athletes in this league perform better, they perform better, when they don't know exactly when their shots are going to be or where their shots are going to come from, because it becomes more of a reactive game and less of a thinking game. This is a subject we have been working on since the start of the camptraining. Tempo is a real thing. "
This is a very real thing, and the Pacers are working on it. They do everything they can not to play frantically and speed up, but also not to get bogged down. Recently. they have improved in this area, and the results bear witness to that. Now they have to keep making it a goal and dominate the pace control. This is one of their best chances for success.