The Indiana Pacers are on a five-game winning streak and are looking to keep that streak alive against the Phoenix Suns tonight, but the big storyline from this nationally-televised game will be about the trade these two squads made in the offseason.
Back in July, Larry Bird called in a favor and got the Suns to swap Luis Scola for Miles Plumlee, Gerald Green and the Pacers’ first-round pick this year. At the time, many thought the Pacers got the better end of the deal, especially with the way Green played last year, the limited amount of playing time Plumlee got and the draft pick that was expected to be near the bottom of the first round. But as fate would have it, the trade has become a win-win for both squads.
Scola has become an essential part of the Pacers’ bench along with a healthy Danny Granger. Coming into this season, Scola was used to being a starting power forward, but with David West occupying that spot, Scola was relegated to the bench.
He’s taken the “demotion” in stride and has even talked about having to adjust to his new role, but was enjoying playing for a championship-caliber team at this point in his career. His 8.3 PPG and 5.2 RPG have been fundamental to the Pacers’ success thus far.
In Phoenix, Plumlee finally got his chance to prove the doubters wrong after the Suns traded away Marcin Gortat and Plumlee moved to the starting lineup. His rookie year wasn’t anything to write home about, but you could see he had made a small leap during the Pacers’ Summer League play. After only playing a total of 55 minutes last year, Plumlee is trying to adjust not only to the speed and season length of the NBA, but also his 24-plus minutes per game.
He’s adjusted well enough to average 9.6 PPG, 8.7 RPG and 1.7 BLKPG to help push the Suns to 23 wins, which no one saw coming.
Green has also been an essential part of the Suns’ run this season. He averaged 18 minutes off the bench for the Pacers last year, but is getting 27.7 minutes this year and averaging 13.4 PPG, 3.1 RPG and 1.5 APG. The Pacers had signed Green last year in hopes that he would continue blossoming like he did in New Jersey the previous year, but it never happened, so they sent him along in the trade for Scola to rid themselves of his contract.
Phoenix is a streaky team and one that can pull off an upset victory on any night. With Plumlee and Green looking to prove the Pacers wrong for trading them, the Suns could pull off the upset tonight, however unlikely it may be. Indiana improved to 12-6 on the road after beating the Golden State Warriors on Monday and should push their win streak to six tonight.