Three key questions for the Indiana Pacers season

Three key questions for the Indiana Pacers season

A team that continues to be punished for injuries puts its hopes in an old acquaintance and an atypical rookie

Manager Nate Bjorkgren’s season premiere had its ups and downs with a squad of Indiana Pacers Talented loaded with young veterans looking to maintain a lively streak of travel to the postseason since 2015.

But the road was not easy with injuries to Myles turner and TJ Warren and a showdown against the Washington Wizards in the play-in that knocked them out of the next round.

However, the 2021-22 season that begins on October 20 against the Charlotte hornets, the arrival of a new manager in his third step through the franchise (as assistant and manager) and the acquisition of players wanting to be recognized in a mediocre Eastern Conference Central Division, bring with them high expectations and several important questions for the immediate future.

Is Rick Carlisle what you need to reach the next level?

With Bjorkgren returning to his assistant job with the Toronto Raptors, general manager Chad Buchanan and president Kevin Pritchard are pinning their hopes on Rick carlisle, an old acquaintance of the franchise as he was Larry Bird’s assistant from 1997 to 2000 and as manager from 2003 to 2007.

A lot has changed since then. There is no longer Ron Artest or “Malice At The Palace”. It is a new stage where the growth that the champion manager has experienced with the Dallas Mavericks in 2011 has led him to be considered one of the best on the benches.

But unlike what happened on the Mavs team, where there was always a main figure like Dirk nowitzki and in recent Luka Doncic seasons, the Pacers are not a team ‘star-centric’ and he must rely on the game as a whole to achieve the objectives set, despite having a Domantas Sabonis who has known how to lead the team.

Will the injuries give you a break in the season?

Injuries have been a hot topic in recent seasons for the Pacers. Victor Oladipo, who became the main figure, only played 64 games from 2018 to 2020 before being traded. Last season the problems of Myles Turner, TJ Warren and Caris Levert with a mass found in his kidney, seemed to take their toll on the team in the final stretch of the season and in the play-in against the Wizards.

2021 does not start well for the team with TJ Warren (left foot), Caris Levert (lower back), Kelan Martin (hamstring), all out and several doubts on Justin Holiday (with an ankle problem that comes from preseason), Jeremy Lamb (wrist) and Malcolm Brogdon probably due to discomfort in the left shoulder.

Will Chris Duarte be as good as he looks?

Everything seems to indicate that it is. And the injuries mentioned above could be the key so that the enjoyment of minutes that the Dominican has at the beginning of the season are not the typical load of a rookie in the NBA.

Already in preseason he was a starter in several games and Carlisle also tried using the Puerto Plata as point guard for the team, a role that would come in handy if Brogdon’s absence is prolonged.

At 24 years old, Duarte is an atypical rookie, but as he commented to ESPN Digital Before being selected in the NBA Draft, “if you are a team looking to win now, choose me”, otherwise he is not the right man. And it is precisely what the Pacers are looking for, to win now and be relevant again in the Eastern Conference.

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