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INDIANAPOLIS – Another win in scrimmage action from the Pacers included some much better moments from their lead guards.

After some expected early rust in Thursday’s first scrimmage, the Pacers main backcourt duo of Malcolm Brogdon and Victor Oladipo looked much more in sync on Sunday.

That offensive punch led to the Pacers winning a bit of an early shootout, 118-111 over the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday afternoon.

It was the deep shooting touch, and signs of explosion, from Oladipo that stole the first half headlines.

Oladipo saw his playing time jump to 28 minutes on Sunday, scoring 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting, (4-of-8 from behind the arc), while also grabbing 7 rebounds. Brogdon had 17 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists.

T.J. Warren led the Pacers with 20 points.

Nate McMillan decided to go much smaller with his starting lineup on Sunday, inserting Aaron Holiday (3-of-9 shooting, 0-for-4 from three-point range) as the Pacers explore rotations for life without Domantas Sabonis.

Myles Turner saw his first Orlando game action, scoring 15 points and grabbing 8 rebounds in 24 minutes of work.

Issues defending dribble penetration from the Pacers led to the Mavericks making a living from behind the arc early on.

But Indiana was much better in the second half, and also had more than enough offensive potency for the victory.

The Pacers will have one more scrimmage (Tuesday, 4:00 PM: Spurs) before their regular season re-start opener on Saturday, August 1st (vs. 76ers). That scrimmage will also be 48 minutes long.

 

Three Things Learned

 -Oladipo Looks Better: After some expected rust in Thursday’s first scrimmage, Oladipo looked better on Sunday, and more like the guy we had heard whispers about in the practice lead-up to these scrimmages. Oladipo played 28 minutes on Sunday (he didn’t play in the 4th quarter, with Nate McMillan wanting his starters in the 24-to-28 minute range), finishing with 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting, 4-of-8 from behind the arc, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and no turnovers. Oladipo and Malcolm Brogdon were much more in sync in this scrimmage, playing off each other very well. Oladipo is now 6-of-13 from behind the arc in the two scrimmages, pointing to all the attention he talked about his jumpshot getting during his lengthy rehab process. At times on Sunday, Oladipo looked like the most explosive athlete on the floor. Nitpicking things on Sunday for him would be another outing with no attempted foul shots. It appears more and more of his focus right now is on taking jump shots and not necessarily trying to get to the rim. As long as things check out physically following Tuesday’s scrimmage, you have to think Oladipo will give it a go when things get real on Saturday.

-Myles Turner Makes Orlando Playing Debut: Sunday saw Myles Turner back playing after he missed the first scrimmage due to a minor calf injury. The goal was for Turner to play around 20 minutes—like the other main starters did in Thursday’s first scrimmage—while the fellow starters on Thursday were targeted in the 24-to-28 range. No Domantas Sabonis for an extended period of time means Turner will take on a massive rebounding burden. That will be an absolute must. He will need to do that and stay out of foul trouble. A return from Goga Bitadze (knee) isn’t expected anytime soon, leaving the Pacers even thinner at the center position. On Sunday, Turner had several really nice moments, including a couple of buckets off the dribble. Turner played 24 minutes against the Mavs, finishing the afternoon with 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting, while grabbing 8 rebounds and having 3 assists. We know Turner’s strengths—rim protection and stretching the floor. Those will be a must in Orlando, plus a little more in the rebounding and offensive paint areas of the game.

-Replacing Sabonis: The loss of Domantas Sabonis, for any amount of time, means the Pacers have to replace arguably their most important player. Sabonis is the team’s best rebounder, one of the most consistent scorers, is a gifted facilitator and keeps the offensive flow going for both the starters and the reserves. It’s going to be interesting to see how Nate McMillan decides to fill such a huge void. McMillan said on Sunday that Sabonis is ‘out indefinitely’ and will be evaluated again in a couple of weeks, with the Pacers ‘hopeful’ for his return at some point in Orlando. Yes, JaKarr Sampson’s (who tweaked his back in Sunday’s game) energy will be needed as a backup 5, with Goga Bitadze still yet to practice in Orlando due to a knee injury. What about going smaller in the starting lineup to replace Sabonis? Maybe insert Justin Holiday, and bump T.J. Warren up to the 4. That would make up a group that can really space the floor, has some ability to interchange defensively, but would need to be much more committed in crashing the boards. Sunday’s decision was to go with Aaron Holiday, who is 5 inches shorter than Justin, as the Pacers clearly like keeping their bench core (T.J. McConnell, Doug McDermott and Justin Holiday) together. You are going to have to make adjustments to both units without Sabonis, but this is something I would definitely explore.

 

Pacers Remaining Scrimmages

-Spurs, 7/28 (Tuesday), 4:00 PM

Pacers Regular Season Re-Start Schedule

-76ers, 8/1 (Saturday), 7:00 PM

-Wizards, 8/3 (Monday), 4:00 PM

-Magic, 8/4 (Tuesday), 6:00 PM

-Suns, 8/6 (Thursday), 4:00 PM

-Lakers, 8/8 (Saturday), 6:00 PM

-Heat, 8/10 (Monday), 8:00 PM

-Rockets, 8/12 (Wednesday), 4:00 PM

-Heat, 8/14 (Friday), TBD