Pacers' streak of having a winning record at home ends after 31 seasons
1989: The last time they weren't above .500 at home, they had four coaches in a season and then drafted inside the top 10.
The Pacers were put away by the Portland Trail Blazers early Tuesday evening, falling 133-112. The loss ends a streak of 31 consecutive seasons with a winning record on their home court.
It was the longest-active streak in the NBA, extending back to the 1989-90 season.
The longest streak in NBA history belongs to the Phoenix Suns with 34 consecutive seasons. The Lakers were second with 32 straight years above .500 at home, and the Pacers were in third — tied with the Blazers, the same franchise that put an end to their special win streak.
During this 72-game shortened season, the Pacers (29-32) are 11-18 at home with seven games left. They were the last Eastern Conference team to win double digit home games.
They’ve done a nice job on the road, going 18-14 with four left.
Pacers fans weren't allowed to attend games until a month into the season. After starting with 1,000 per game, they’ve since opened up to more than 3,000 per game. No fan sections, though, and the atmosphere isn’t at all the same.
With Indianapolis hosting the Big Ten men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, along with the entire NCAA men’s tournament in March, the Pacers had a stretch of games where 12 of 16 were played away from Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
It’s shown just how impactful Pacers fans are on games. In the bubble and into this season, NBA teams are reliant on each other, even staff members and the front office sometimes, to make noise and create their own energy. Fake crowd noise doesn’t make a difference.
“That’s definitely a key,” said Caris LeVert, “… because the crowd isn’t really going to carry you to a lot of victories right now. I’ve never been a part of being on this side of it (at Bankers Life Fieldhouse) with a full packed house so I’m definitely looking forward to that.”
It became apparent a month ago that this memorable streak was going to fall, it was just a matter of when. They entered Tuesday with eight of their final 12 games at home.
After a home loss to the Spurs on April 19th, they slipped back to 9-17. So they had to win their final 10 home games, more than they won in the first 26 tries, to keep it alive.
They beat the Thunder and Pistons, but it was ended by the Blazers — a franchise where three members of the Pacers once worked and Domantas’ father, Arvydas, introduced the basketball world to the Sabonis family.
They were down double digits at halftime, then outscored 40-16 in the third quarter and suffered their largest deficit of the season (43) by the fourth. Blazers guard Anfernee Simons hit his first nine 3-point attempts off the bench and finished with a game-high 27 points.
The Blazers made 20 3s (on 35 attempts), matching the franchise high for an opponent, while he Pacers made 10 3s — and none in the decisive third quarter.
That’s a 30-point difference.
“Simons hitting those 3s really deflated us,” forward Doug McDermott said afterward. “… He came in and just completely changed the game. And some of them were tough shots.”
Most of the players wouldn’t be aware of the streak. Myles Turner, the longest-tenured Pacer, would but he missed his fifth straight game and is out indefinitely with a right big toe injury. Sabonis, Goga Bitadze, T.J. Warren and Jeremy Lamb were also sidelined.
“After every game, every win or loss it’s really the same thing,” Oshae Brissett, who posted his third double-double in four games, said of how the locker room handled the blowout loss. “We talk about what we could’ve done better, even when we win. The guys are sticking together — always — and we know any disconnect would lead to losses on losses on losses.”
The Pacers went 28-54 during the dysfunctional 1988-89 season. It was Hall of Famer Reggie Miller’s second season with the franchise. First-year Pacers head coach Nate Bjorkgren was finishing up middle school then.
Meanwhile, Jack Ramsay was in his third season as Pacers coach but resigned following an 0-7 start. Hall of Famer Mel Daniels filled in for two games and then four days after the resignation, George Irvine was named head coach and they went 6-14.
On Jan. 5, 1990, Dick Versace was named head coach for the final 53 games.
Talk about instability, that’s four head coaches in one season; the last season they didn’t post a winning record at home.
Justin Holiday, the only Pacer born before 1992, was 17 days old at the end of that 1989 Pacers season. So he, like many young Pacers fans, don’t know any different than winning basketball at Market Square Arena and now Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Since the 1989-90 season, when the 31-year streak started, the Pacers have almost always been good. Sometimes great. They have reached the postseason in 25 of the last 31 years.
The other great Pacers stat is this: They have not drafted inside the top 10 since 1989, when they selected George McCloud seventh overall.
One great Pacers streak down and it’s possible for the other to come to an abrupt end this season as well.
Eleven games remain.