Shootaround: Four Starters to Sit in Finale
With nothing to play for – their playoff seed, 3, is already locked in – and the postseason beginning this weekend, Pacers coach Frank Vogel will rest four of his starters tonight.
George Hill, Paul George, David West and Roy Hibbert will all sit Wednesday night when the Pacers host the Philadelphia 76ers to close the regular season. Hill, who’s playing with a sore left hip that has led to pain in his groin, particularly will benefit from the extra rest.
“We’ve done all we can do for the regular season,” said David West. “It’s now about turning a gear and we’re trying to get ready for this weekend … Getting guys healthy and getting guys fresh is our key concern right now.”
The Pacers’ lineups will resemble that of a preseason game where the coaches are trying to see what everyone can contribute. D.J. Augustin, Gerald Green, Tyler Hansbrough and Ian Mahinmi will join usual starter Lance Stephenson on the floor for the tip. With the key players sitting, coach Vogel says it will be key for his team to be organized with guys playing different roles.
“The work we did today [at shootaround] was to get everybody familiar what their roles are going to be in tonight’s game,” he said. “We’re playing this game to win the game.
“We’re balancing getting our legs back and getting our rhythm back. We’ve been a little bit out of sync and out of rhythm, especially offensively. So hopefully getting our legs back will be the first step in getting our rhythm back.”
Paul George said he wanted to play and he’ll still go through his pre-game routine as if he’s playing tonight, but he understands the decision.
“You kind of want to play to try and get back in the groove, but at the same time you want to be smart,” Paul George said. “I think coach knows what’s best. I’ll go ahead and sit out, try to get my mind right, body right and be ready for the playoffs.”
The Pacers will also be watching two other games closely to learn their first round opponent. We know it will be either Atlanta or Chicago. The Pacers will face the Hawks in the first round of the playoffs if Atlanta loses tonight in New York OR Chicago beats Washington.