Although the Indiana Pacers fell in an upset to the Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday night, they gained some valuable minutes from newly acquired small forward Evan Turner. Turner scored a team-high 22 points to go along with five assists in 31 minutes for the Pacers. If the Pacers have any hope of knocking off the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference, they will need depth in their bench, and that is exactly what Turner provides.
Before coming over to Indiana in a trade with the Philadelphia 76ers, Turner was a starter. He averaged about 35 minutes per game for a 76ers team that is one of, if not the worst team in the league. During his time for Philadelphia this season he averaged about 16.8 PPG. He has seen his role change substantially since being traded to Indiana, coming off the bench and averaging about 24 minutes per game with around 11 PPG, which isn’t bad for a sixth man.
Due to the lack of depth in the Eastern Conference and the inability of any team to show its dominance besides Indiana and Miami, let’s assume that the Eastern Conference Finals will feature the Pacers and the Heat. Turner’s role off of the bench will be crucial for Indiana. His primary role will be to relieve Paul George and in doing so help carry the scoring load for the team as well as assist in defending LeBron James. George showed some difficulty in defending James in last year’s Conference Finals.
The Pacers have dropped their past two games, which is unusual for them, especially losing to a team like the Bobcats. However, if Wednesday’s game was any indication for how Turner will play for the remainder of the season, the Pacers should feel good about their chances at making a run at the NBA Finals.