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Indiana Pacers: Sloppy Opening-Night Win over Toronto Leaves Questions

TORONTO, CANADA - OCTOBER 31:  George Hill #3 of the Indiana Pacers makes the game winning basket over top of Jonas Valanciunas #17 of the Toronto Raptors on October 31, 2012 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER:  User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by David Sandford/Getty Images)
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Geoff EstesCorrespondent INovember 1, 2012

The Indiana Pacers are a team built on chemistry.

I concede that you could say that about almost all NBA teams (except you, Sacramento), but the Pacers rely on team chemistry more so than most teams.  This was evidenced by their offseason strategy: keep the core together and shore up the bench.

Walter White would have been very disappointed with their chemistry Wednesday night in Toronto.

And yet, the Pacers pulled off a huge win with a strong fourth quarter by David West and some clutch plays from George Hill.

Tough fourth-quarter defense and a dominant West propelled the Pacers to a big road win that came down to the final possession.  Hill knocked down a floater with two seconds left to win it for the Pacers. 

The win is great, but the Pacers do have some areas of concern after one game.

They showed how much they will miss Danny Granger. 

I am not of the camp that Granger is "untouchable," but his absence was certainly felt in Toronto.  The balance on offense just was not there.  There were too many forced shots and not enough production on the outside from Hibbert, George and West.

It was also evident how much the Pacers missed Darren Collison.

DJ Augustin was not good.  He was out of sync all night and was unable to get any real rhythm going with the second unit on the offensive end.  Augustin cannot be on the floor if he can't not knock down open shots, penetrate and set up his teammates.  His defense is a known liability.  As bad as Hill played at times tonight, the Pacers are in huge trouble if he misses any games.

DJ Augustin is not Darren Collison.

What concerns me most is the poor bench production. Tyler Hansbrough, who many did not even want in a Pacers uniform anymore, was the most productive off the bench. 

And yet, after all the turnovers and bad defensive rotations, they were in it until the final possession when George Hill won it for the Blue and Gold.  That is promising.  Don't discount this Toronto team.  I'd bet they are in the running for the eighth seed in the East come playoff time.

Things will calm down as the season goes on. 

The Pacers will reignite their Bunsen burner of chemistry that made them so effective last season.  But this season is different that last season.  The East is deeper.  Getting a top-four seed is not what it was a year ago.  Every win counts, and this is one that may be much bigger than it seems.

It is east to overreact in the NBA, but this win showed the Pacers that they can play bad and still win.  They can win without Danny Granger.  They have a go-to guy in David West.  They will now get teams gunning for them, not the other way around. 

Sloppy. Confused. Out of sync. 

Tough enough when it mattered to get the W.

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