INDIANAPOLIS—Myles Turner put the whole NBA on notice with his dominant performance Wednesday night against the Dallas Mavericks.
The Indiana Pacers had a sell out crowd in their 2016-17 season opener to witness multiple career highs set by the Pacers starting center. The second year player from the University of Texas put up career highs in both rebounds (16) and offensive rebounds (6). Turner’s 30 points was one point shy of his career high, but was good enough to lead the Pacers to its fifth season opener victory in six years.
The Pacers have won five straight games against the Mavericks after last night’s 130-121 victory in overtime at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The 130 points scored by Indiana (1-0) is the most points a Pacers team has scored in over five years. Dallas (0-1) had no answer to the Pacers big man, who was hitting shots from all over the court.
“He’s an active player.” Mavs Head Coach Rick Carlisle said. “He did a little bit of everything to hurt us. He pooped up in his shots, he was on the glass and he took advantage of the switch once or twice. I mean he’s really good, but it was not just one thing he did, he was active and he got the ball in the basket.”
Turner was on fire all night long. He gave Dirk Nowitzki and the rest of the Mavs big men all they could handle down low, but also showed his mid range game by hitting a few jump shots throughout the course of the game. Turner also hit a big time three with 1:18 left in overtime to give the Pacers a 122-117 lead.
“He’s had confidence since last season.” Pacers Head Coach Nate McMillan said. “He worked his behind off all summer. He’s certainly a threat offensively and he just continues to improve.”
The Pacers got off to a hot start and forced the Mavs to take a timeout after a quick 6-0 start by Indiana. New addition Jeff Teague and fellow backcourt mate Monta Ellis were able to breakdown their defenders and set up three easy buckets.
Teague and Ellis score 20 and 19 points respectively, but the two guards had a bigger impact on the result of the game by the space they were able to create. Both are good enough to beat their defenders and get into the lane creating shots for their big men. The fans went crazy after Carlisle called the early timeout due to a vicious Turner slam set up by Teague.
“The fans showed up and showed out.” Teague said. “It was electric in the building. When Myles got that dunk, the crowed erupted. That was a big time feeling.”
The fans were not the only ones impressed by Turner’s big game. Star small-forward Paul George has also noticed Turner’s skills. PG likes the metal strides that Turner is taking in his game.
“He’s a confident kid.” George said. “One of his biggest attributes is he thinks every shot is going to go in.”
George must have had that same mindset in the season opener, hitting four out of five shots from behind the arc. He also added eight rebounds and six assists to go along with his 25 points. More importantly, PG gave the Pacers a go to option towards the end of the game. The Pacers had a shaky fourth quarter before eventually allowing the Mavs to tie it up from a Harrison Barnes three with 2.4 seconds. In overtime, Indiana gave way to its star and allowed George to take over the game.
“We just put it together.” George said. “We got stops and executed down the stretch. In overtime, I took it upon myself to make plays. In the past, I’ve shied away.”
George is going to have to control late games like last night if the Pacers want to be true competitors in the East this season. His supporting cast this season is good enough to help him get to a few more of those late game situations.
Making up that cast is big man Al Jefferson, who had seven points and six rebounds in 11 minutes on his Pacer debut. The bench also consisted of good outings put up by Rodney Stuckey and C.J. Miles, who scored eight points each.
In his first game with the Pacers, forward Thaddeus Young shot 5-10 for 11 points. He also added five rebounds and four assists. Young and Turner give Indiana an extra edge with their ability to step back and knock down long range shots.
“The space and the court opens up so much when you have guys that can shoot the basketball and know how to make plays” Young said.
No one shoot the ball or made more plays than Turner on Wednesday night. Turner has plenty of optimism heading forward into this season so fans can expect these performances more often.
“We know we’re a great team.” Turner said. “we’ve shown flashes of it, we’ve just got to show it throughout the rest of the game. We had a couple defensive lapses, but we’re going to get better.”
The Pacers know what it takes to make it to the Eastern Conference Finals, but are going to need to continue developing and getting better if they want to move to that next level of reaching the NBA Finals. The season is very long, but with young talent like Turner, a deep bench and a star like PG to carry them, Pacers fans have plenty to get excited about in early on this season.
Indiana heads to Brooklyn Friday to play the Nets and then to Chicago to play the Bulls on Saturday. The Pacers next home game is November 1st against the Los Angeles Lakers.
You can follow Austin Ghirardelli on Twitter, @a_ghirardelli