|2013/2014 NBA Season|
|April 9, 2014|
|BMO Harris Bradley Center | Milwaukee, WI|
|FS Wisconsin Alternate | 1250 WSSP|
|Donald Sloan||PG||Brandon Knight|
|Evan Turner||SG||Ramon Sessions|
|Rasual Butler||SF||Khris Middleton|
|Luis Scola||PF||Jeff Adrien|
|Ian Mahinmi||C||Zaza Pachulia|
|2013/14 Advanced Stats|
|92.6 (20th)||Pace||91.7 (24th)|
|103.8 (22nd)||ORtg||102.5 (27th)|
|99.0 (1st)||DRtg||111.5 (30th)
R&R. How bad are the Bucks? Or maybe a better question: how desperate are the Pacers to turn around their once-stellar season?
Frank Vogel's eye-opening decision to rest all five of his starters promises to make both of those questions major talking points tonight. Despite having Monday and Tuesday off, Vogel revealed earlier today that none of his starters would appear in Milwaukee, citing a need to give them a rest--both physically and mentally. Via Pacers.com:
"The starters are not going to play tonight, all five of them," Vogel said after shootaround. "We're going to rest them and try to heal up some various bumps and bruises involved with all five guys.
"We're not playing well as a basketball team right now and the starters aren't playing well. Our bench is not playing well. We want to try to get the starters on track by getting their legs back under them and getting them healed up."
Why all five?
"If you sit one or two guys for the game, nobody ever finds a rhythm," Vogel said.
What makes this so fascinating is how much every game matters to the Pacers at this point. Indiana trails the Heat by just a half game for the top spot in the Eastern Conference, making every game critical for the Pacers from here on out, and none more so than Friday's matchup between the Pacers and Heat in Miami.
But Vogel's team hasn't looked much like a title contender over the past couple months, limping to a 13-13 record while struggling to score with any consistency. All the little things seem to be going wrong for Indy's offense, which is bad news given their scoring inconsistency even during the good times.
The Pacers' starters have also played significantly more minutes than the starters of any other contender this year, a fact highlighted brilliantly by 8 Points, 9 Seconds' Tim Donahue:
What you see is that The Five of the Pacers have played - on average - almost 300 minutes more per player than the top 5 for Houston, who hold the second most minutes. That's 10 30-minute player games per player. The difference becomes even more exaggerated (almost 700 minutes per player) when you compare to paragons of economy: Greg Popovich's San Antonio Spurs.
Playing a lot isn't all bad of course--it also means the Pacers have avoided major injuries, which is obviously a good thing. But making it to game seven of last year's East Finals plus another high-mileage regular season may well be taking a toll on Indiana, and it's anyone's guess if four full days off ahead of Friday's tussle with the Heat will be enough to help the Pacers get out of reverse.
Pride on the line. Vogel's decision puts the Bucks in the odd situation of facing a team that's actually less talented than them, though it's also not as if this is a full-strength Bucks team either. The Bucks may once again suit up only eight players, with Larry Sanders, Ersan Ilyasova, Nate Wolters and Carlos Delfino definitely out and Ekpe Udoh, O.J. Mayo and Miroslav Raduljica listed as questionable.
That also raises another important question: is it "safe" for the Bucks to win a game again? With Philly three wins up in the lotto standings and just five games to go, the odds of the Bucks not finishing with the league's worst record would appear rather slim. Road games in Washington and Toronto look like certain losses next week, so home games against Cleveland on Monday and Atlanta to close the season on April 16 are the only other "threats" to the Bucks' assault on the most ping-pong balls in the May 20 lottery.