The Pacers‘ decision to hold Tyrese Haliburton (left knee bruise), Myles Turner (sore lower back), and T.J. McConnell (sore back) out of games on Saturday and Monday signaled that the team isn’t exactly going all-out for a spot in the play-in tournament, writes Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star.
While Bennedict Mathurin‘s ankle sprain would have sidelined him in any situation, the other Pacers regulars who sat out those two contests in Detroit likely would’ve been active if Indiana was in win-now mode instead of focusing on player development. As Dopirak notes, the absences of the team’s regulars resulted in big minutes for young players like Andrew Nembhard, Aaron Nesmith, Oshae Brissett, Jalen Smith, Isaiah Jackson, and Jordan Nwora.
“It’s just valuable for our young guys to get this kind of experience,” Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle said. “Drew Nembhard needs this kind of work at the point position. He needs to play 35 minutes a game a few games playing the point position. He played 36 (on Monday). He did a lot of good things in both games. There’s a different rhythm to that position, a different flow.”
Here’s more from around the Central:
- Robin Lopez hasn’t had much of a role this season after signing with the Cavaliers as a free agent last summer, but his nine minutes in Sunday’s win over Charlotte with Jarrett Allen out were the most he has played in a game since January. “Just trying to put some size out there,” head coach J.B. Bickerstaff explained (Twitter link via Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com). “With Jarrett being out, we are limited with size. I thought RoLo was good, played hard. Everybody is going to be called upon.”
- Within his Cleveland.com story on the Cavaliers‘ new multiyear deal for Sam Merrill, Fedor notes that the club views the swingman as more than just a “one-dimensional” sharpshooter. “I think he was leading or near the top of the G League in taking charges, so he’s got a willingness to scrap, a willingness to help on the defensive end of the floor,” Bickerstaff said. “Can create shots and make shots.”
- After being limited to 19 games as a rookie for health reasons, Pistons forward Isaiah Livers is trying to establish himself as part of the team’s future plans with his play this season. James L. Edwards III of The Athletic takes a look at how those efforts are going and explores the strides Livers is making in his second NBA season.
- Eugene Omoruyi, who signed a second 10-day contract with the Pistons on Monday, is making a strong case to earn a rest-of-season deal once those 10 days are up, Edwards writes in another story for The Athletic. “I always say, a guy who has his Ph.D. — poor, hungry, driven — they’re going to make it in this league,” head coach Dwane Casey said. “He’s hungry.”