Skip to main content

Pascal Siakam shows increased comfort level with Indiana Pacers in February win over New Orleans Pelicans

Siakam was important in a win on Wednesday

INDIANAPOLIS — Pascal Siakam has scored more than 20 points in four of his past five games for the Indiana Pacers, and it's been clear along the way that he's becoming more comfortable with his new team.

That feeling reached its apex on Wednesday night. With the New Orleans Pelicans in town, and the game hanging in the balance in the final minutes, the former All-Star forward took over. Siakam scored eight points in the fourth quarter, including six in the last 2:07 of the game, to get the Pacers over the hump in an important battle.

For the outing, Siakam finished with 24 points, 11 rebounds, and five assists. His playmaking was crisp. The rebounding he provided was crucial. Siakam scored when asked to, shooting 11/18 from the field. His all-around game was tremendous on a night where the Pacers needed it.

"He knows how to play the game," Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle said. His belief about Siakam's perceived increase in comfort is a result of improved synergy between the former All-NBA forward and his new teammates. The entire Pacers roster has more reps and data on how their new teammate can help them. "[Siakam] is a versatile player, and he can score."

Siakam has averaged nearly 17 shot attempts per game since the All-Star break. In the five games prior to that span, he took 13.8 field goal attempts per night. His first 10 games with the franchise featured outings with up and down involvement, but entering the break, he wasn't being looked at enough as a play finisher and creator.

Since the All-Star break — a gap in time in which the Pacers were able to practice twice — the star forward has been more involved, and it's been a positive change for the blue and gold. He's impacting winning on both ends.

"I'm definitely getting better at it. I think the team's kind of understanding some of the things that I do well, and we've been working on a lot of things," Siakam said of his involvement with the team. He's understanding when to be aggressive as a natural playmaker.

His all-around game is getting better, too. He defended Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram at times on Wednesday, and he fared well in both matchups. He pulled in 11 rebounds, which was the third-straight time he grabbed at least nine. His five assists were critical against New Orleans' top-six defense. The scoring was important, but Siakam contributed in just about every area of the game.

A subtle part of his growth has been his improving chemistry with star guard Tyrese Haliburton. Entering today, the Pacers have a +2.96 net rating with those two on the court, and they've been linking up more often in the two-man game.

Haliburton has been setting screens for Siakam. Siakam wiggles into space that Haliburton can see so they can connect. The Pacers clear out the wings to create space and let those two do their thing. It worked on Wednesday.

"Adding Pascal, I'm having to learn that a little bit on the fly," Haliburton said of becoming more of a screener. He's had to evolve his game in that way after Buddy Hield was traded away in February, but it's helped his chemistry with Siakam improve. "Just getting our rhythm down, figure out how we can be better."

More reps together have made that duo lethal. Their first few weeks together came with an asterisk as Haliburton was playing hurt and had a minutes restriction. Now, he looks more like himself, and the two have practiced together multiple times.

"For him also, I know his job is basically getting everybody shots and making things easier for everyone," Siakam said of Haliburton. Siakam wants to be a part of that and help out by creating some shots himself — and generating looks for Haliburton. "The 1-4 action I think is always gonna be great."

On Wednesday, thanks to their clutch play and improved partnership, the Pacers were able to beat the Pelicans behind their star duo. Indiana is now 7-7 in games that both stars play after a shaky start together.

"It felt good. Glad we were able to close it out. Great shot by Tyrese. After that, it's just him making plays, doing what he does," Siakam said of their late game moments. "Every time they try to double him or things like that, [I] try to find the seams. You know you can get the ball at any time."

Siakam knows he has to be ready for the ball when Haliburton has it. He also knows he needs to be prepared to create some shots himself for this Pacers team. As his comfort level increases and his teammates figure out the best way to use him, Siakam has been able to be much more impactful in that role.

  • Ben Sheppard is earning trust of Indiana Pacers with his hard play and quality performances. CLICK HERE.
  • Jordan Nwora returns to Indianapolis and reflects on his time with the Indiana Pacers. CLICK HERE.
  • One-on-one with Indiana Pacers veteran forward James Johnson. CLICK HERE.
  • Indiana Pacers hold on late to take down New Orleans Pelicans on ESPN. CLICK HERE.
  • Follow AllPacers on Facebook: All Pacers SI
  • Follow AllPacers on Twitter: @SIPacers