The Indiana Pacers have the best record in the NBA so far in the 2013-14 season. However, there have been times this season where they have just come out and not had it, which you have to expect from pretty much any team in the league. Wednesday night against the Atlanta Hawks was one of those nights.
Paul George came out and did star-player things against Atlanta like you’d expect him to, finishing the evening with 28 points, 12 boards, three assists and two blocks on 11-25 shooting, though he did shoot just 3-10 from three and turn the ball over four times. However, the truly poor play came from the Pacers’ role players around George.
Only one of the other four starters for Indiana shot 40 percent or better against the Hawks while they also put up a relatively poor effort on the boards overall and didn’t contribute much anywhere else either. A shallow bench wasn’t much better as the four players who came in as reserves were nearly non-factors.
While the Pacers’ certainly need their role players to step up and help George in games like this, the biggest takeaway from this game is how valuable Lance Stephenson is to this Pacers team.
Stephenson missed Wednesday night’s contest due to a knee bruise and his absence was noticeable. Sure, Stephenson wasn’t the singular cause of their issues, but not having a guy like him that contributes in every facet of the game is a huge blow to this team.
Wednesday’s loss, just the Pacers’ seventh of the year, showed Stephenson’s value and the value of role players to this Indiana team. George is playing at a superstar level this season, but no one player can go at it alone. In the end, the Pacers need their role players to at least play efficiently and productively for them to remain successful this season.