Pacers handled by Clippers, still negatively affected from advancing in tournament
The Pacers are now just one game above .500 and running on fumes. Defense, especially slowing opposing wings, remains a big concern. And so is their unfavorable schedule. ... Plus, Paul George talks.
What the Pacers need more than anything right now, even more than a reasonable defense, is time.
Time to rest and regroup.
Time to pour over film, then work and execute in practice.
Time to emphasize defensive coverages and work on counters to the way opposing defenses are attacking Tyrese Haliburton to minimize his contributions.
Instead, practice is nonexistent because of their current schedule. The team is shorthanded due to injuries, currently down three players from the rotation. The other guys are visibly fried, mentally and physically, from the push to Las Vegas for the in-season tournament and then the letdown that followed.
If they had not advanced to the tournament final four, they would have enjoyed four days between games — ample time to rest, practice and regroup.
Even head coach Rick Carlisle had enough against the LA Clippers in the fourth quarter and was issued his first technical foul in Game 25 after leading all coaches in techs last season.
Monday’s game was their seventh over the last 12 days. See why their early stretch of the season, with 11 of their first 16 at home, was so important? It’s why the 9-7 record to start wasn’t good enough and now they’re paying for that favorable stretch.
Seven games in six different cities. And plane issues forced the team to remain in Washington DC overnight on Friday, then travel to Minneapolis on game day only to arrive and go straight to the arena. That throws off their individual routines.
These sound like excuses, but it’s their current reality. Before you criticize the product and result, you must first understand the context and unusual circumstances. This one had “schedule loss” written all over it.
For a group that is still trying to grow and prove themselves, the last week after Las Vegas has been a setback. Four straight losses for the first time and they’re fading in games.
A loss in Minnesota and then to the Clippers, OK you get it. A loss in Washington and poor defensive play all month — entirely unacceptable.
They’re drained, on the verge of hitting ‘E’ and yet there’s no let-up in sight. They’re playing nearly every other day for the next month and do not have more than two days between games until the finals days in January.
They went 6-1 in tournament games and are 7-12 in other games, a significant drop-off when the stakes are not elevated.
Now, with that all said, what are they going to do about it? How will they respond and put up a fight? So far, it hasn’t met expectations. Not for this franchise.
As with everything for this team over the last three seasons, it’s going to start defensively. They've given up at least 122 points per game in all nine games in December.
The Pacers are allowing 127 points per game this season, which ranks last in the league.
It’s a broken record, but there needs to be more want-to and fight. The biggest issue is personnel — seriously lacking a 6-foot-7 wing defender — and that’s not on the players, but they have to make do with the guys they have.
“We’re making a lot of mistakes and we just need to do it better and we need to do it harder,” Carlisle said. “And we need to make up for a lack of size when there’s a lack of size. And we need to help each other when there’s a mistake — and we’re just not doing any of that well enough.”
Small things become big things and Carlisle is visibly tired of the same old story game after game.