McMillan: "Our Entire Team Has Stepped Up"

Despite losing Victor Oladipo to a season-ending knee injury in January, the Pacers have stayed afloat in a top-heavy Eastern Conference

Reiter Than You
March 14, 2019 - 8:50 am

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On Jan. 23, the Indiana Pacers lost Victor Oladipo to a ruptured tendon in his right knee. The former No. 2 overall pick was averaging 18.8 points, 5.6 rebounds and 5.2 assists, and although the Pacers were 32-15, their season appeared all but over.

Well, a funny thing has happened since then: the Pacers (43-25) have stayed afloat. They lost their first four games without Oladipo but are 11-6 in their last 17 games and are fourth in a top-heavy Eastern Conference (entering play March 14).

Who has stepped up for this team in Oladipo’s absence?

“Our entire team has stepped up,” Pacers head coach Nate McMillan said on Reiter Than You. “I could go down the list from Darren Collison having to handle the ball a lot more. (Bogan) Bogdanovic has done a really solid job for us all season long. He’s had to do a little bit more ball-handling. Thaddeus Young has really stepped up in that leadership role as far as in the locker room, keeping the team believing that we can continue to win. 

“So it’s been a team effort,” McMillan continued. “The focus has been not on what we don’t have, but what we do have – and taking what we do have and just trying to get the most we can out of each other and holding tight with what we believe in.”

The Pacers have six players averaging between 11.1 and 17.8 points.

“We just firmly believe that if we play the right way – we play hard, we play together – we’re going to give ourselves an opportunity to win a game,” McMillan said. “These guys have done that. We’ve moved the ball, we’ve defended – they give me the effort every single night. If you’re getting that effort and you’re getting a group that try to play as one, you’re going to give yourself an opportunity to win games. So it’s been a team effort.”

Oladipo, meanwhile, continues to rehab.

"He’s doing good,” McMillan said. “I spoke with him (Wednesday morning), and I saw him on video shooting, and told him he needs to hold that follow-through a little longer. But he’s doing good. He’s doing good. He’s going through rehab. He’s really walking without crutches right now, so he’s able to put some weight on his leg and move around. He’s still got a good spirit about him. It was good to seem walking without crutches. He watches every game and gives me a little feedback on what he’s seeing, but he’s doing well.”