PreGame Chatter: Pacers vs. Hornets

Grant Afseth

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - The Indiana Pacers and Charlotte Hornets will complete a back-to-back series with each other during Friday's matchup. 

The first installment of these two teams facing off resulted in the Pacers coming out on top with 116-106 being the final score. Indiana was led by a triple-double from Domantas Sabonis along with a season-high 28 points from Doug McDermott off the bench. 

Entering the Pacers' second matchup with the Hornets on the season, Indiana will look to further the momentum they have established. Achieving a season-high in assists (34) while playing effective all-around defense proved to be a real recipe for success on Wednesday. 

Here is what Pacers coach Nate Bjorkgren had to say before Friday's game: 

Playing the Same Team Twice

The Pacers faced the Toronto Raptors in a back-to-back series and ended up splitting it. A close loss in the first matchup was followed up with a convincing win for Indiana in the second game. Now, the Pacers will take on the Hornets in a similar fashion. How does playing the same team twice in a row impact preparation?

"Especially with this day in between, we played Charlotte and then had a practice day and then play Charlotte again here tonight, so you really get to dig in more. Especially yesterday, you watch the game after the game is played and go over it a bunch again yesterday then this morning. Just keep digging. I think every time you watch an opponent play you can find something new. 

"Just to continue to improve ourselves out there and the things we did in practice, we wanted to get better at some things. We wanted to prepare for them on the things we thought they might do more of, things they did well against us that we want to stop and to prevent. So again, it comes to our active defense and coming out and playing hard. Defense creating offense for us." 

Deciding to Start Jeremy Lamb

The Pacers experienced strong success since Jeremy Lamb's return with him coming off the bench and leading the bench unit's offense. That changed when Indiana had him in the starting lineup for Wednesday's win over the Hornets. What led to Bjorkgren switching things up?

"I like it. I liked him coming off the bench there. I've only had him for a few games. Then I liked starting him the other night. Same thing with a number of the guys. Doug McDermott has been a starter and off the bench. That's the thing about this team. Their care level is so high. They know they could start and could come off the bench and it doesn't change their demeanor. It doesn't change how they play. They want to play the best they can for the team to be successful."

When filling out the starting lineup, Bjorkgren is going to continue to mix it up. He has gone with no shortage of different options throughout the early part of the season when needing to fill out the starting five. Will that continue?

"There's a lot of thought into it. I like what both guys, Jeremy and Doug, even Edmond, JaKarr hasn't played for a while. Aaron Holiday started there a bunch. There's been a number of different guys in that position. I just like kind of mixing it up a little bit here and there. It could be Jeremy Lamb for a while, it could be Aaron Holiday again soon. There's a lot to think about offensively, defensively, pace-wise, there's. a lot that goes into it. 

Use of Zone Coverage

The Pacers have been one of the NBA teams to use zone defense the most so far this season. It has helped them throw off the pace of the opposition's half-court offense for long stretches -- sometimes outright changing outcomes of games. What led to this tendency?

"I thought it was. a little bit more on the rise, maybe it wasn't, I haven't seen the stat. Last year, the year before, but it seems like zone defenses and changing defenses is growing more and more here over the last few years. This year you've seen a lot of it around there, you really are. 

"I just think coaches are trying to mix it up. I think they're trying to give opponents a different look and I like that. I think it's important to change the feel of the game or these good teams we are playing again, give them different defenses to prepare for and different defenses during the game."

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