NBA Playoffs 2017: The Pacers need Myles Turner more than ever against the Cavs
The Pacers' big man has gone absent when his team has needed him most
If the Indiana Pacers are going to have any chance whatsoever in challenging the Cleveland Cavaliers in their first-round playoff series, Myles Turner is going to have to somehow calm down and be more aggressive -- all at the same time. Turner is a huge piece of the Pacers' present and future, but he has been a disaster in this series.
Turner has made only 8 of 22 shots for 17 points and has grabbed just 13 rebounds across two games. He has been bullied by the Cavaliers. It's a stark contrast to the 21-year-old's performance last spring against the Raptors. Turner has looked tentative and the extra physical attention paid by the Cavs has disrupted him.
Some of it is just the yips. Here he is wide open under the basket, with time to catch, turn and dunk. For some reason, he instead tries a spinning layup, worried about chase-down blocks, presumably.
And there are plays like the clip below. This is Kyle Korver, who is a really underrated defender, but has slipped considerably in recent years. And Korver stops him cold. That can't happen.
Part of this is the Pacers' offense in general. Paul George is taking the most shots, understandably, and playing terrific basketball. The insertion of Lance Stephenson back into the squad has meant he has taken a high number of shots, but Turner's field goal attempts per possession actually go up with Stephenson on the floor.
The issue has really been when the Pacers switch to a three-guard lineup with Jeff Teague, Monta Ellis and George. Putting that many gunners on the floor means Turner evaporates, but even then, it's not just opportunity. Turner has to put himself in a position to be effective, and has to be aggressive enough to finish
What's odd is Turner should be a good matchup against the Cavs. He has size on Love and can spread the floor further than Tristan Thompson is comfortable. Indiana has done well scoring -- that hasn't been the problem -- but getting Turner involved will shift the dynamics and reduce how much the Cavs have turned the Pacers into a perimeter-only offense. For what it's worth, the Pacers have the fewest field goal attempts inside 10 feet of any Eastern Conference playoff team.
The Pacers have kept it close against the Cavs in the first two games, but Turner is too good and too big a part of their future to be relegated to a non-factor. The Pacers have to get him involved, and he has to finish with confidence to put the already-broken Cavs defense further back on its heels.
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