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In win over Philadelphia 76ers, Pascal Siakam and Myles Turner pairing shows what it can be for Indiana Pacers

Siakam and Turner combined for 46 points last night

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner was perhaps more excited than anyone when his team acquired forward Pascal Siakam. After the trade last week, Turner discussed what the acquisition could mean in the frontcourt for the blue and gold.

"I think we both open each other's game up," he said. The Pacers nine-year veteran center believed that he wouldn't be able to be defended by smaller players via cross matching anymore. Siakam will absorb those players while Turner is contained by bigs.

It didn't take long for Turner to be proven correct. On Thursday night, the Pacers crushed the Philadelphia 76ers for 48 minutes, and the Siakiam-Turner frontcourt led the way all night. They were both consistent forces all over the hardwood.

Those two players set the tone from the jump. In the first quarter alone, they combined for 15 points, eight rebounds, five assists, one steal, and two blocks. It was just their fourth game together, but after a key practice Wednesday, everything Siakam did looked more effective. That included playing alongside Turner.

"Both of those guys were significant pluses in this game, so that tells you that they're working well together," Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle said after the game. He was pleased that his team played aggressive offense all night.

The head coach went on to gush about Siakam's performance, noting that the two-time All-NBA forward has only been with the blue and gold for a week. Seven days prior to this outing, the 2016 draft pick was in Indianapolis getting a physical done so that his trade could be completed.

Then, Carlisle started detailing a specific play where Siakam created a three-point shot for Turner by drawing in the defense and firing a pass out to the big man. "There aren't many six-foot-nine guys that make that play," he said.

That dynamic was striking throughout the night. Siakam had 10 assists — four of them went to Turner. Three of them were for outside shots, and each of the trio happened as Turner's defender, Joel Embiid, slid down to help put pressure on Siakam with the ball. The Pacers new star got the ball to the right player, in this case Turner, every time.

"I was telling him today. 'Just continue to space.'," Siakam said of his conversations with Turner. The former Toronto Raptor knows he can create like that consistently.

On the night, lineups featuring both big men were +28 in a 12-point win. The starting lineup accounted for +21 of that figure. That group also featured Buddy Hield, Andrew Nembhard, and Aaron Nesmith, who were a combined 7/11 from long range. They created spacing, and that makes everything easier for the frontcourt pairing.

For the season, the Siakam-Turner pairing is +8 in 99 minutes so far. The Pacers boast a ridiculous 123.5 offensive rating in those situations, many of which have come without two-time All-Star guard Tyrese Haliburton, though their defensive rating has been 119.6. That number needs to be better.

Still, the +3.9 net rating is exciting for the blue and gold. And on Thursday night, those two were Indiana's best performers in a key victory. There might be something special brewing in the Pacers frontcourt.

"Just two vets in the league, man. It's easy to make reads with him because either he's going to go score, my man's going to help and I'll be open or vice versa," Turner said of playing with Siakam so far. "He's shown what he can do. He's a great iso player. I think he sees the floor well."

The duo did well to limit the defensive impact of Joel Embiid. Philly's three-time NBA All-Defensive team selection spent 29 possessions defending Turner last night, per the league's matchup tracking data. The Pacers scored 41 points in those moments while Turner shot 50% from the field. Embiid's time on Siakam led to missed shots for Siakam specifically, but Indiana scored 17 points on 11 possessions in that alignment. The blue and gold have a new-look frontcourt, and it was special on Thursday night.

"Having someone that can space the floor, that's something I've kind of wanted my whole career," Siakam said after the game. They will continue to communicate to make sure that they are each making the same reads.

Siakam could feel the adjustments from his first practice with the team, and Turner is trying to be more of himself lately. Both of those shifts were successful. When the game ended, that pairing had combined for 46 points, 22 rebounds, 11 assists, one steal, and two blocks. They dominated the game and guided Indiana to a huge win without Haliburton.

For the Pacers, this needs to be a sustainable duo. The Pacers are extremely reliant on Haliburton — and for good reason, he's one of the premier talents in the NBA. But they have a losing record without the point guard this season. If the Turner-Siakam pairing can become a consistent weapon that allows Indiana to beat teams like the 76ers even with Haliburton, that will go a long way in elevating the team's floor.

Siakam is clearly terrific — he's averaging 19.5 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 6.0 assists per game in a Pacers uniform. Turner, meanwhile, has a new mentality that has raised his level. He's averaging 18.1 points and 6.4 rebounds per game since Christmas on solid efficiency.

"I've just been aggressive lately man, and that's the way I've got to play," Turner said Thursday.

With a re-shaped frontcourt, and the Pacers are ready to prove they are a threatening team no matter who is on the court. Pascal Siakam and Myles Turner showed their new level on Thursday night.

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