Playing Kevin Seraphin at Power Forward May Eventually Pay Off

Can Kevin Seraphin make the Indiana Pacers a better team? His recent stints off the bench might answer that question.

During the past three games, Nate McMillan put Kevin Seraphin in a lineup that Indiana Pacers fans haven’t seen before.

McMillan paired Kevin Seraphin with Al Jefferson in the Pacers’ 90-85 loss to the Bulls on Dec. 26. The box score for the game shows only two points, two rebounds, an assist, and a blocked shot for Seraphin. However, the play-by-play analysis gives a different perspective on Seraphin’s time on the court.

Seraphin made his entrance into the game at 5:28 in the third quarter. The score was 59-48 in favor of the Bulls. At the same point in the game, Nikola Mirotic reentered the game. He had scored 14 points in the first and second quarters.

The Pacers were able to cut the deficit only to ten points until Jefferson came into the game at 3:06 in the third quarter.

With Seraphin defending Mirotic, Mirotic failed to score in the third quarter. Having Seraphin defending Mirotic and the three-point line, Jefferson could concentrate on taking care of the basket. By the end of the quarter, the Pacers had cut the deficit to two with the Bulls leading 63-61.

The Pacers tied the game at 64-64 at 11:33 in the fourth quarter before the Bulls went on a 7-0 run. Mirotic scored only two of those points. After Seraphin came out of the game 8:32 in the fourth quarter, Mirotic scored an additional four points.

Against the Wizards on Wednesday, Seraphin entered the game in the first quarter at 3:47, which was much earlier than he had against the Bulls. From when he entered the game to his first exit at 10:25 in the second quarter, he had three rebounds. He also was able to bounce from guarding the three-point line and helping out Jefferson around the rim when needed.

Seraphin didn’t contribute any box score statistics the second time he entered the game. However, when Seraphin was in the game from 3:45 to 0:35 in the third quarter, the Wizards made no three-point attempts.

Also, both Seraphin and Jefferson had better defensive and total rebound percentages in the Wizards game than their current season averages. Seraphin pulled down 38.4 percent of the defensive rebounds and 19.2 percent of the total rebounds available while he was on the floor. His current season averages are 24.1 percent of available defensive rebounds and 19.1 percent of available total rebounds.

Jefferson exceeded his season averages by even more. He usually pulls down 22.4 percent of the defensive rebounds and 16.1 percent of available total rebounds. Against the Wizards Jefferson hauled down 46.7 percent of the available defensive rebounds and 27.2 percent of the total available defensive rebounds.

But the positives in defensive play won’t amount to anything without offense to accompany it. When the Pacers tied the game against the Bulls on Dec. 26 when Seraphin was on the court, Aaron Brooks had 10 points during that segment of the game. But after Brooks’ three-point shot at 11:33 in the fourth quarter, four other players, including Seraphin, missed their shots. The Pacers didn’t score again until Brooks made a pair of free throws at 7:34 in the fourth.

Part of accompanying offense includes not having players going scoreless in a game. C.J. Miles went 0 of 6 against the Bulls. Brooks and Seraphin failed to score against the Wizards. However, both of them had only two shots at the basket during the game.

Additionally, at times the starters haven’t provided much offense when Seraphin is in the game. For instance, Seraphin entered the Wizards game at 3:48 in the first quarter when Myles Turner, Paul George, and Jeff Teague were still in the game. Turner missed the only shot he took between Seraphin’s entrance and Turner’s exit at 2:06 in the first. George had a couple of free throws before he went to the bench at 1:52 in the first.

Scoring from both starters and bench players picked up during the rematch against the Bulls while Seraphin was in the game. The best stretch the Pacers had while Seraphin was on the court was during the third quarter. From Seraphin’s entrance at 6:25 in the third until the end of the quarter, the Pacers scored 13 points. For the starters, George had five, Turner had two, and Glenn Robinson II had one.  Miles and Seraphin provided bench scoring with three and two points respectively.

He had his best performance in yesterday’s win over the Detroit Pistons, scoring 10 points and grabbing 3 rebounds.

Another factor that will determine the success of Seraphin’s play at power forward, and the Pacers play overall, is stabilizing the lineup.

One of those factors affecting the lineup stability is the return of Monta Ellis to the lineup when the Pacers played the Wizards. Ellis has come off the bench since his return, but Nate McMillan has made conflicting statements concerning whether or not Ellis will return to the starting five.

According to Nate Taylor of the Indianapolis Star:

Before Sunday’s game, McMillan referred to Ellis as his starting shooting guard once the veteran returns to full health from the groin injury that forced him to miss eight games. McMillan’s plan Wednesday was to use Ellis’ off the bench under a 20-minute restriction in his first game back. In the last two games, McMillan has watched Robinson contribute to the Pacers’ victories over the Chicago Bulls and Magic.

After Sunday’s game, McMillan said he will, at least for the foreseeable future, continue to use Robinson in the starting lineup.

“We’re going to stick with it right now,” McMillan said. “Glenn has done a real nice job. He seems to continue to improve defensively. Jodie Meeks is real tough to guard and (Robinson) did a nice job of chasing him and making it difficult on the offensive end. Rebounding is something that we certainly need and he has gone in and really made an effort to help us on the boards. I like what I’m seeing from Glenn.”

McMillan also made rotation changes affecting Thaddeus Young and Glenn Robinson III.

Previously Robinson had been starting the second quarter with the starters. However, since Seraphin’s introduction into the lineup, Young has come in for Seraphin in the second quarter, and Robinson has come in later in the quarter.

Also, McMillan decreased Robinson’s minutes in the Wizards game in the rematch against the Bulls. Robinson played 32 minutes against the Bulls last Monday. Against the Wizards, Robinson’s minutes dropped to 20. He saw 23 minutes in the rematch against the Bulls on Friday. After posting a 12-point,10-rebound double-double on Friday, Robinson played 32 minutes against the Magic on Sunday.

From observing Seraphin’s play this season, Seraphin also may need to adjust to playing at power forward. One of the impressive aspects of Seraphin’s game is his ability to grab long rebounds out of thin air. That ability hasn’t seemed to be on display during these last four games.

But Seraphin scored six points and grabbed six rebounds against the Magic on Sunday. The 3.0 points and 3.0 rebounds he has averaged during the last four games isn’t much. However, it tops the 1.5 points and 2.5 rebounds that Lavoy Allen has averaged for the season. If Seraphin builds on his performance against the Magic and continues to defend, the change in position for Seraphin could lead to more Pacers wins.

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