Hello, Pacers pals. It’s been a while, but I haven’t forgotten you. After all, this column is called “The Home Dipo,” and our guys have been away from home for a good portion of the past two weeks.
Unfortunately, one major detail has not changed since my last column: Victor Oladipo is still not playing. Although he’s made a splash off the court with the release of his noteworthy debut album V.O., the All-Star guard has still not returned to game action due to knee soreness.
After many fans of the team got their panties in a bunch due to Oladipo’s new “out indefinitely” status (he was previously “day-to-day”), NBA news extraordinaire Adrian Wojnarowski cleared the air, tweeting out on Nov. 30 that the Pacers star is “expected to return in the near future.”
Relax y’all.Wouldn’t you rather him miss time now than in the playoffs?
In Oladipo’s absence, the team has gone through ups and downs, as one might expect. Currently, the Pacers stand at 4-4 without him. That isn’t great, but it’s definitely an upgrade from the team’s 0-7 mark without V.O. in the 2017-2018 season. In this time, the team has also grown closer as a unit, as bench players like Aaron Holiday and Doug McDermott have found their groove, while starters like Myles Turner and Bojan Bogdanovic have proven their worth.
On Wednesday, Nov. 21, the Pacers fell to the Hornets in Charlotte by a score of 127-109. Despite a so-so game from Kemba Walker, Indiana struggled mightily on defense, allowing Charlotte to shoot 62% from three. Bright spots in the loss included the play of Bojan Bogdanovic, who finished with 20 points on 6-of-9 shooting (including 4-of-4 from three). Doug McDermott also made a splash off the bench, finishing with 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting (including 3-of-5 from three).
In a rather forgettable game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, the Pacers fell to the San Antonio Spurs by a score of 111-100. In addition to Oladipo, Myles Turner missed this game due to a sore left ankle. Without Turner inside, the Spurs pummeled the Pacers in the post, as center LaMarcus Aldridge finished the game with 33 points and 14 rebounds. In the loss, the Pacers got great games from Bojan Bogdanovic (21 points) and Domantas Sabonis (19 points and 16 rebounds), as well as a solid bench effort from Cory Joseph (18 points).
To kick off the first game of their Western Conference road trip, the blue and gold blew out the Jazz once again by a score of 121-88. Of the Pacers starters, Myles Turner impressed, impacting the game on both ends of the court like he does so well. In addition to 16 points, Turner finished with 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks. Of the seven Pacers to finish in double-figures, other highlights also included Doug McDermott with 21 points, Bojan Bogdanvic with 15 points, and Aaron Holiday with 12 points.
The team followed this up with another win in Phoenix, defeating the struggling Suns by a score of 109-104. Myles Turner stepped up to the plate once again in the victory, finishing with 15 points, 13 rebounds, and 5 blocks. Doug McDermott continued his strong play off the bench with 21 points, with the always-reliable Domantas Sabonis also adding 21 points and 16 rebounds as well.
To put it frankly, the Pacers got “LeBron-ed” in Los Angeles, falling to the Lakers on the third stop of their Western Conference road trip by a score of 104-96. Despite a solid overall team effort, Indiana was no match for LeBron James, who finished the game with 38 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 assists. Highlights in the loss included Domantas Sabonis (20 points and 15 rebounds), Bojan Bogdanovic (14 points), and Doug McDermott (10 points).
To finish out the Western Conference road trip, the Pacers suffered a frustrating loss in Sacramento, narrowly falling to the Kings by a score of 111-110. Despite great performances from Bojan Bogdanovic (27 points), Myles Turner (14 points, 12 rebounds, and 3 blocks), and Doug McDermott (14 points off the bench), the team was unable to close things out in crunch time, finishing their road trip with a satisfactory mark of 2-2.
Although weary from their West Coast excursion, the Pacers were able to return to their winning ways at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Tuesday, Dec. 4, defeating the Chicago Bulls by a score of 96-90. The team was led by Darren Collison, who stepped up with 23 points on just 6-of-7 shooting. Myles Turner also continued with his solid stretch of games (excluding Los Angeles), finishing with 18 points, 11 rebounds, and 5 blocks.
“I think everybody’s comfortable by now,” said Collison following the Pacers’ win over Chicago. “We’re using so many combinations. I think everyone has become accustomed to playing with one another.”
He continued, “It really doesn’t matter who’s on the court. If we play defense like we did tonight at the end of the game, we’ll be fine.”
Still without Victor Oladipo, the Pacers head into a weekend of winnable games against the Orlando Magic and Sacremento Kings. Following these favorable matchups, however, Indiana will square off against noteworthy Eastern Conference foes in Washington, Milwaukee, and Philadelphia.
While it’d be great to have Oladipo back sometime next week, there’s really no telling when the Pacers star guard will return. In the meantime, however, we can continue to watch players like Bogdonavic, Sabonis, and Turner blossom, as the team grows stronger in Oladipo’s absence.