All four of the Indiana Pacers games this season have been decided by double-digit point margins. Much to the chagrin of Victor Oladipo and company, two of those results were blowout losses.
It’s certainly way too early in the season to make much of a fuss, especially considering the impressive nature of the team’s two decisive victories at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. After all, the Boston Celtics, deemed preemptive favorites to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals, also currently stand at 2-2.
Following Monday night’s 101-91 loss to the Timberwolves, one could easily say the Pacers simply need to get more games under their belt.
“We’ve just got to play the game together—it works,” said head coach Nate McMillan after Monday’s loss in Minnesota. “In the two wins that we’ve had, we’ve had great ball movement. We’ve had great defensive intensity. And [in] the two games we’ve dropped, the defense has not been there and the offensive ball movement has not been there. So we’ve got to clean this up.”
The Pacers kicked off their 2018-19 season with an impressive showing at home, thwarting the Memphis Grizzlies by a final score of 111-83. Despite having 20 turnovers, Indiana outplayed Memphis in nearly every other aspect of the game. The standout stat from Wednesday was the Pacers’ 67-39 rebounding margin, especially considering rebounding was a point of emphasis this offseason. The team also had seven players score in double figures in the opening night route, including four off the bench. This was highlighted by new Pacers additions Doug McDermott (12 points) and Tyreke Evans (14 points).
“I think we have a lot more depth this year on our bench,” said Myles Turner following the team’s opening night win. “To have that support is going to be big for us throughout the season.”
On the heels of this solid first impression, the Pacers took a step back on Friday, falling mightily to the Milwaukee Bucks by a score of 118-101. With excitement swirling inside of their brand new arena, the Bucks were led by budding superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo, who finished the game with 26 points and 15 boards. Over the course of the night, the Bucks went 17-for-46 from 3-point range, compared to the Pacers’ measly 6-for-18. Pair that with even an average game from Antetokounmpo, and you’re almost guaranteed an L.
The Pacers returned home on Saturday for a matchup with the Brooklyn Nets. The team picked up where they left off at Bankers Life, blowing out the Nets by a final score of 132-112. Bench scoring was again a theme, as nine Pacers finished in double figures led by Oladipo with 25 points. This marked the first time that a Pacers team had nine in double figures since 1983, truly showing the team’s potential for a balanced scoring attack.
Again, Indiana followed a blowout win with a loss on the road, falling to the Timberwolves on Monday by the aforementioned score of 101-91. The next stretch of games will surely not be easy for the blue and gold, as they will either be on the road or up against playoff teams from last year. This includes a Wednesday night matchup in San Antonio with the Spurs, followed by a trip to Cleveland on Saturday for a game against the LeBron-less Cavaliers.
On the near horizon, the Pacers also have two games against the Houston Rockets (Nov. 5 and Nov. 11), as well as two against notable Eastern Conference foes in Boston (Nov. 3) and Philadelphia (Nov. 7).
Within the next couple weeks, we should be able to see how well the Pacers can “clean this up,” that’s for sure. As Coach McMillan mentioned, it will take more consistent play on both ends of the court, starting with Oladipo and continuing all the way down. Let’s hope for the best y’all.