Buckner: Pacers Ahead Of Schedule; Front Office Deserves Credit

The Pacers have pushed the Cavs in every game of their first-round playoff series

After Hours With Amy Lawrence
April 23, 2018 - 8:14 am

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The Indiana Pacers lost Game 4 of their first-round playoff series with Cleveland 104-100 on Sunday, thus failing to take a 3-1 series lead. But make no mistake: the Pacers, in making the playoffs and pushing the Cavs to the limit, are ahead of schedule.

How are they doing it?

“For a number of reasons,” former NBA player, coach, and champion Quinn Buckner said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence “One, Thaddeus Young, who was with the Pacers last year, has done a great job in terms of his leadership, but I do think that Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis have come in and been solid for this team.”

Young had 12 points and 16 rebounds in Game 4, Oladipo had 17 points and five assists, and Sabonis had 19 points and six rebounds. 

“Obviously with Victor making the All-Star team, you get a heck of a player in that,” Buckner said. “But Victor is also a humble player so he shares the wealth. He makes sure that everybody else is a part of what’s going on. They pull for each other, they care for each other – it’s a chemistry thing. It really is. They legitimately care for each other.”

The Pacers also have a deep rotation, with eight players playing at least 15 minutes Sunday.

“Victor has been at the forefront, but (Bojan) Bogdanovic has had his role,” Buckner said. “You get Darren Collison. He’s been added, as has Cory Joseph, who’s been toughened at Toronto and San Antonio, so he’s got some things going for him. It was put together with the thought that you want to see what the team could do when it got into difficult situations and find out those players who you want to keep going down the road. I think Kevin Pritchard and Donnie Walsh, Chad Buchanan and Peter Dinwiddie have done a very good job, and Larry Bird is in the background doing things as well. But they’ve done a very good job of getting guys that just know how to play and are willing to play the right way.”

The Pacers have outplayed the Cavs for much of the series, but Cleveland won Game 4 to retake home-court advantage. LeBron James finished with 32 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists and two blocks in Game 4

Pacers coach Nate McMillan was not happy after the game.

“He didn’t feel like the team played the right way,” Buckner said. “He felt like there were some guys that felt like they needed to take shots sometimes, the big shot, and they didn’t get it to go – and that is not the hallmark of this team. This team has played very well together and normally makes some good choices. But you miss shots and a lot of these things start to come to the forefront.”

Gam 5 is Wednesday in Cleveland at 7 p.m. ET, with Game 6 to follow Friday in Indianapolis.