Ball movement begins with Jeff and ends with Teague

Before the season began, Indiana Pacers President of Basketball Operations Larry Bird stressed the importance of putting more points on the scoreboard.

Matter of fact, Bird has wished for the Pacers to score more points for awhile now, dating back to the beginning of the 2015-16 season.

The Pacers are off to a solid start in this regard, hovering around middle of the pack as of Friday in points per game at 105.4. Improving this number and adding another point or two per contest would likely move Indiana into the top 10 in scoring average. Bird has mentioned in the past how he’d like to see the team score “five to seven more points a game,” which at first thought doesn’t seem like much. But it is when analyzing a larger sample size of outcomes.

Point guard Jeff Teague has his hands — and vision … and decision-making … and quickness — all over this offense and its ceiling (which, by the way, it hasn’t reached yet).

Teague is recording assists in bunches, the same way Indiana is putting points on the scoreboard, much to Bird’s and head coach Nate McMillan’s pleasure. He’s also contributing scoring of his own in most cases. Teague flirted with a triple-double in Indiana’s 121-109 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday with 21 points, 15 assists, and seven rebounds.

What was missing from the Pacers’ offense earlier in the season, however, seems to have been ignited as of late: ball movement. When executed nicely, this ball movement starts and ends with Jeff Teague. He is the primary facilitator when it boils down to finding an open shooter on offense or creating points when plays break down.

A slew of teammates have pointed to Teague when fielded questions about why the offense has begun to click recently. It’s no coincidence that Myles Turner, Paul George and Glenn Robinson III are most often the ones crediting Teague with Indiana’s spike in offensive production; they all start alongside him.

[Pacers aware of the big picture]

His vision of the floor and ability to find the open man make everyone else’s jobs easier. The assist numbers speak for themselves.

So much of Indiana’s identity under former head coach Frank Vogel was about defense, and it worked, to a degree. The Pacers contended in the Eastern Conference for a handful of seasons by slowing down the opposition. Focus has shifted with new faces aboard and different schemes to outscore the opponent rather than try to slow it down.

About a month ago, I wrote about Teague and creating his role on this team and within the offense as the starting point guard.

As this regular season approaches the midway point, Indiana may be hitting its stride at a great time. Much of that credit goes to Teague.

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