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INDIANAPOLIS – Kevin Pritchard couldn’t get the image out of his head.
Thinking back to the series with the Cavaliers, double teams harassing Victor Oladipo, the Pacers struggling to find offense, with their All-Star shooting guard being suffocated by extra defenders.
Indiana lacked another individual creator to find them a bucket on his own.
It was a goal for Pritchard this offseason to find another ball-handler, who could play alongside Oladipo, but also do his own thing in attacking the basket and finding others.
Enter Tyreke Evans.
“You have to have two guys who can make plays,” Pritchard says of having two scorers in Oladipo and Evans.
“We saw last year in the playoffs, with Victor in the pick and roll, you can take him out of his best thing. They would soft double it. They would hard double it, but they would make him pass it. But if you have two playmakers on the court, with shooting and being able to space, it’s tough to defend. In this league, you have to score points. The best teams are putting up big numbers. You have to go right back at them and be able to outscore them.”
That’s why the Pacers had Evans atop their wish list at the start of the summer.
They have seen a guy in Evans average 16.5 points per game, playing around 32 minutes a night, while also handing out more than 5 assists per game.
“I see Tyreke in a role where it’s not so much his statistics,” Pritchard says. “He could go get 25 and 5 on any team. But what makes him special is that I think he can make everybody around him better.
“We struggled when Victor went out. We were 0-8 (when Oladipo was hurt last year). I believe that given a healthy team and with these additions, we will have the ability to withstand that a little bit.”
Those 8 losses, with the margin averaging double digits per game with Oladipo sidelined, cost the Pacers a home-court playoff series.
Pritchard knows for the Pacers to make any playoff run moving forward, help was needed in the backcourt for Oladipo.
It will come with Evans first entering the game off the bench, and then possibly with the two scoring guards playing together in closing games out.
“He’s a big point guard, but he’s capable of playing the 2,” head coach Nate McMillan says of Evans’ ability to play on and off the ball. “His ability to handle the ball and you can play him with Victor and then he’s more of a priority with the second unit.”