'We were just terrible': Pacers were handled by the Magic and had their flaws exposed
Both teams are in development mode and aspiring to reach the playoffs. Both coaches saw this as a good test and appeared to foreshadow how it would play out.
After having four days between games, a rare stretch that allowed for several events in the community, it was back to basketball Sunday afternoon for the Pacers. The excitement for the team in the city is growing and on top of that, the Colts were on their off week.
Both head coaches knew the task at hand and what they could learn from it. They acknowledged it separately with reporters pregame, both noting how this matchup would be a good test.
For the Pacers, it was about coming off the high from an in-season tournament victory in Philadelphia, their fourth win in five games, and not allowing a four-day layoff to negatively impact them.
For the Magic, they were ready to get home. This was their final game of a four-game road trip that has kept them away from The Sunshine State since last Monday.
The Pacers entered the game as the NBA’s top offense and the Magic have the top defense.
“Both teams are probably going to look to see which one goes first,” said Magic coach Jamahl Mosley, who previously worked with Rick Carlisle in Dallas. “I think it’s great for us to be able to test up against a great offensive team that pushes the pace at a high level.”
Mosley then singled out Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton for leading the Pacers and for how impactful he is to the team. We all know it, but looking back, perhaps it foreshadowing what the Magic planned to do.
“Tyrese Haliburton is the head of that snake the way he’s pushing the basketball, finding guys and taking care of the basketball. It presents a great opportunity for us to test where we are defensively.”
Entering the game, Haliburton had zero turnovers in the last nine quarters. He hadn’t just been good, he had been spectacular. And a finalist for the Eastern Conference Player of the Week in each of the first three weeks.
The Magic then forced seven Pacers turnovers in the first quarter, including two by Haliburton. They disrupted what he wanted to do and the Pacers became unrecognizable — just like they do when he’s out due to injury.
The Magic raced ahead 11-0, had Carlisle burning three timeouts in the first quarter and by the end of it, they had doubled the Pacers’ output: 42-21. The Pacers had as many turnovers (7) as field goals and struggled at both ends of the floor. Their bad offense only made their defense worse.
The Pacers gave up a season-high 78 points in the first half and they weren’t able to recover, falling 128-116 in a game that was never that close. The third unit played the fourth quarter and were +17, allowing for the score to look respectful. But by then, it was too late.
“Didn’t compete well enough to start,” Carlisle said. “Really didn’t compete well enough at all throughout the first half.”