Pacers Roundup: Mark Jackson and Charles Barkley like Pacers, David Ortiz thanks Dan Dyrek

Coach Nate McMillan talks with Donnie Walsh and Larry Bird after a recent practice.

Coach Nate McMillan talks with Donnie Walsh and Larry Bird after a recent practice.

With all kinds of great content across the internet, I plan to share the most interesting pieces on the Pacers with you. It may become a weekly thing or biweekly, depending on the amount of relative content.

Here’s our first roundup.

The Pacers played 52 games that were within five points in the last five minutes, tied (with Denver) for the most in the league.

  • Outside of the Pacers’ locker room, Dan Dyrek is a name unfamiliar to fans. Inside the training room, however, the team’s Physical Therapist Consultant plays a key role with the training staff and the health of the team. Dyrek, who’s based in Boston, retired at the end of the baseball season as the Red Sox’s Director of Sports Medicine Services. This is a great story on how impactful he was to David Ortiz’s career.

Less than 24 hours later, Dyrek was being serenaded by the player he had kept on the field for the past four seasons, with a phone call from Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski not too far behind. From that moment until the Red Sox were eliminated, the 63-year-old didn’t leave Ortiz’s side.

Twenty-four years after Larry Bird said he wouldn’t participate in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics if Dyrek didn’t come along, another Boston sports icon needed Dyrek’s help.

The moment punctuated a pivotal four-year piece of Ortiz’s historic career.

“We’ve definitely had some laughs together, some stress together, some worries together going back to when we first started all this treatment,” said Dyrek (who spoke with Ortiz’s permission). “You never know what that ultimate level of recovery is going to be, so there was a lot of tension in the early days. So we’ve been through a lot. There is definitely a friendship there and I hope that friendship does continue. I’ve been friends with Larry for over 30 years and I would love for that to happen with David Ortiz.”

VAN GUNDY: I think Indiana had a great off-season with player additions. I think Teague is a very fine point guard. Young is your prototypical four right now, quick, and athletic. And Al Jefferson gives him somebody in the post — and you know this, being from Charlotte, that’s still highly efficient. There’s not many guys who can score in the post. Jefferson gives him another way against the best defenses to try to exploit his ability to score.

I think player-wise, they did a good job. And listen, I’m on record, I thought — I don’t understand letting Frank Vogel go. I think he was — I think he did an unbelievable job there and I don’t understand the rationale.

But I think Nate MacMillan is an outstanding coach and did a fine job for Frank as an. Assistant and his Seattle and Portland teams were difficult to play against because he had them playing at a high level of intensity on a nightly basis, and I think he’ll do a fine, fine job.

JACKSON: I think when you look at the Indiana Pacers and the job that Larry Bird has done, improving their talent pool, that’s a dangerous team that’s loaded and has increased their depth and to me that’s a team to watch.

… I already talked about them being a dangerous team because of the reasons that Coach just documented. I think Paul George, coming off the injury, had a great year last year. I expect him to have an even better year this year and be a superstar and lead that team.

And a guy to watch out for is Miles Turner. Young, talented big man who can flat out play. Nate MacMillan, like Coach said, is an established coach that’s had success at different places, and I’m sure it will continue there.

Indiana bet big on Turner’s defense, and his ability to mimic Ian Mahinmi‘s underrated work will determine their season. He’s already a nuisance around the basket. It will take him much longer to master the ballet of pick-and-roll defense. He has happy feet in space, and he was sometimes late grasping Indy’s coverages.

He works hard, and his brain is always firing. When he felt emboldened, he’d sometimes bait pick-and-roll ball-handlers by springing toward them — and then darting back to intercept their pass heading for Turner’s man. He wants to dictate terms — for the offense to turtle in fear of him. “I’ll do anything to make that point guard pick up his dribble,” Turner said.

I’m so in the tank for the Indiana Pacers this year I’m getting the bends. But there’s so much to like: Paul George and Myles Turner, Jeff Teague and Thaddeus Young, C.J. Miles (once his knee stops barking), Monta Ellis, Rodney Stuckey, Al Jefferson and Kevin Seraphin. There’s nothing to keep Indiana from being fast and lethal on offense while not faltering on defense. The Young-George combo makes for eminent switch-ability. Teague was criminally underrated in Atlanta, and Turner will battle Steven Adams all year for the title of Best Young Big in the game. I will spend a lot of time at Nicky Blaine’s in May.

  • TNT’s Charles Barkley, who said Myles Turner is “going to be a star,” is also bullish on the Pacers.

“Cleveland is No. 1, Toronto No. 2, Indiana No. 3 and Boston No. 4,” he said on TNT’s Inside the NBA Thursday night. “The most underrated player in the league to me is Jeff Teague and he’s going to make a huge difference in Indy.”

“I always look at weird stuff like that – like how close am I to this guy?” George said last week. “So I would look up records, look up years he’s played, scoring, how much points he put up for the Pacers. Where is he at? Where am I at? How far do I got? I’m into weird stuff like that. That’s where I really realize how big he was. It’s the reason his number is retired here.”

“He’s still young and he’s still got a lot of room to grow,” Bird said of George last week. “It’s important where he wants to take this team. It’s definitely his — and it could have been his last year. This is the year it’s pretty clear to me that it is definitely his.”

  • Gordon Hayward wrote on his own website about the new season, including having another Indy guy, George Hill, as his teammate.

It’s been good having George on the team. We are both from Indianapolis, so I know him a little bit already. Indiana guys just know how to play basketball. I know he’s been brought up to play basketball the right way, and it’s been fun playing with him already. To have that initial relationship with your point guard is really good for developing chemistry.

George just makes things easier for everybody. He does a good job controlling and dictating the pace of the game. He is so long on defense, he’s very disruptive. He’s also another guy that’s been with winning teams and in a winning environment a lot. He also does little things that help the team out.

He’ll be good for our rotation. One of the benefits for our team is our versatility, and George is another guy who is very versatile because he’s a big point guard. He can play point or slide to the two. He can guard both point guards and twos. So he’s going to be another key for us, both offensively and defensively, another guy that adds depth at multiple positions.

25-year old center Shayne Whittington (211-C-91) put on an amazing game in the last round for Obradoiro and receives a Eurobasket.com Player of the Week award for round 2.

He had a double-double of 23 points and 10 rebounds, while his team lost the game against the league’s best team Iberostar Tener. (#3, 2-0) 55-70. Obradoiro already lost 2 games and recorded no victories. Whittington turned to be Obradoiro’s top player in his first season with the team. Western Michigan University graduate has very impressive stats this year. Whittington is in league’s top in rebounds (5th best: 9.0rpg) and averages solid 75.0% from behind 3-point line.

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