Defensive Pressure Ramping Up Against Pacers Victor Oladipo
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INDIANAPOLIS – Victor Oladipo knows this is part of his growth.
The bullseye is squarely on Oladipo’s back night in and night out when opposing teams take on the Indiana Pacers.
That’s what happens when you become a first-time All-Star and are the favorite to win the NBA’s Most Improved Player award.
That’s what happens when your team is 0-6, losing those games by an average of 12 points, when you don’t play.
When Oladipo takes the floor nowadays, the defensive game plan is focused on doing everything they can to make sure players other than No. 4 beat them.
“They are coming at me, flying at me, double teams,” Oladipo says of the defense seen as of late. “I’ve been drawing a lot of attention and that comes with it.
"It’s what I wanted. I just have to keep on growing. It’s obviously a little new for me, but I’ll figure out a way. Figure out a way to utilize my teammates, get them open looks, open up the floor and make it easier for me.”
How much of a challenge has it been for Oladipo?
Oladipo is 11-of-38 from the field (28.9 percent) in his last two outings. While his assist numbers have risen a bit, Oladipo did have a career-high 10 turnovers on Monday night.
He’s shooting less than 25 percent from three-point range since returning from the All-Star break.
Nate McMillan is adamant that Oladipo’s regression as of late is not related to fatigue.
“We are seeing more physical play on Victor,” McMillan says. “It’s that time of the season. You are going to see more aggressive, more physical play. Teams are going to game plan to do things to try and take him out and he has to make those reads, learn to play through that contact and it can’t become a distraction for where you feel you aren’t getting calls.
“He’s not used to seeing that in this role, in this time of the season. He has to learn to play through that.”
This is part of Oladipo’s development.
Being the guy on a team destined for the playoffs has not happened in Oladipo’s first 4 NBA seasons.
There’s no denying that things are more taxing for Oladipo as the Pacers reach the season’s final weeks.
“It’s new to command all that attention,” Oladipo says. “Their game plan is to make sure they stop me and I’ve got to find ways to be effective and impact the game in a positive way. It’s a challenge every night.”
Will Oladipo be able to fight through this enough for the Pacers to find playoff success next month?