It’s the same problems, different year for the Indiana Pacers
You never want to find yourself down 0-2 in a playoff series. Normally, one thing you could count on is getting homecourt at some point in the series and using the energy to will your way to a win. This isn’t the case for the Indiana Pacers, who are in danger of getting knocked out of the first round for the fifth consecutive year.
The Pacers have looked completely outmatched at times in the first two games against the Miami Heat. Losing Oladipo for all of Game 1 killed the Pacers offensively even though they stuck around for most of the game. Down the stretch, not having that third scorer for Indiana killed them in the last few possessions.
During Game 2, the Pacers had no answer for the wings of Miami and were destroyed by the 3-point shot. After being beat by almost double-digits in both games the Pacers are now searching for answers.
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The Issues for the Indiana Pacers
The glaring issues for the Pacers are issues that have been around for a while now. Injuries are the obvious issue as this makes two years in a row that they haven’t had their top player in the playoffs due to injury. Victor Oladipo missed a lot of time last year and this year while recovering from his torn quad tendon in his knee and Domantas Sabonis missing the playoffs due to plantar fasciitis. On the injury front, it seems the Pacers can never catch a break.
Offensively, this team still looks atrocious. Nate McMillan’s offense has always been in the bottom half of the league since becoming coach of the Indiana Pacers. There was zero ball-movement, pull-up 3’s early in the shot clock, and lack of an inside presence is the downfall of the offense. Not having Sabonis will make having an inside presence difficult, but Myles Turner has to step up to the occasion.
It’s shocking to me watching him have Duncan Robinson get switched onto him and not post him up every single time. The offense is at most times stagnant. If the fast break isn’t there the offense turns into a 1-on-1 dribble drive with hopes of kicking it out to an open shooter. The Heat is creating a triple-team wall that usually gets a turnover as a result.
The Pacers also don’t take advantage of some of their fast break opportunities. There was a play in Game 2 where Bam Adebayo fell going for a layup and was out of the play. Malcolm Brogdon brought the ball up in a 5-on-4 situation. You could tell he thought about driving but pulled the ball out and let Adebayo get back on defense and then attacked the same spot. Instead of having only two players close on him and create an open 3 for Oladipo, it turned into that three-player wall and turnover was the result.
The Pacers will get one more chance with this current team. Nate McMillan was handed a one-year extension, making next season the last one on his contract. The core and rotation are all under contract for next season.
If this team can stay healthy they could be a dominant force in the NBA, but next season will be the last chance with this team. With Oladipo set to hit free agency at the end of next season and Nate McMillan’s contract ending, this team could look very different in the near future.