Darren Collison was the guy. Indiana needed an up-tempo point guard to run Jim O’Brien’s up-tempo offense, so they went out and got the highly-coveted Collison out of New Orleans.
Except that during crunch time, T.J. Ford has been getting the minutes for the Pacers. Against the Hawks last Friday A.J. Price was the guy getting run. Pacers coach Jim O’Brien told the Indianapolis Star why that was.
“I thought our best chance of coming back was with A.J. in the game because he spaces the court, he shoots the 3 and he also needed playing time,” O’Brien said. “I also think he did a nice job.”
So far this season Collison is shooting 41.4 percent from three, Price 25 percent. I understand trying to get Price some run — he has earned it with his play — and he did help cut the Hawks’ lead in half at times. But when that run falters you need your best playmakers on the floor. Your best players finish games and Collison has sat. That has left Collison confused and unhappy.
“I don’t know why I didn’t play,” said Collison, who has started all 19 games he’s appeared in. “I’m not going to lie, it’s been tough. Right now, I’m not used to it. It is what it is.”
The Pacers have slowed it down some — by about 2.5 possessions per game this season — and in the half court Ford has some veteran savvy with execution. He is a little bit better defender than Collison.
Look at the five man rotations and you see that Collison does better with the regular starters (Mike Dunleavy, Danny Granger, Josh McRoberts and Roy Hibbert) but substitute Rush for Dunleavy (as O’Brien has done a lot recently) and Ford becomes the much better fit (by 16 points per 48 minutes).
Still the Pacers rotations seem to be a mix and match, which makes it hard to grasp a real identity for this team. They are better — Hibbert has made a huge leap — but we’ll see. Four games this week against the league’s elite will tell us a lot about just where they stand.