June 28, 2022

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The Ideal Sport

3 Things That Held The Pacers Back This Season

3 Things That Held The Pacers Back This Season


Malcolm Brogdon #7 of the Indiana Pacers dribbles the ball while being guarded by John Konchar #46 of the Memphis Grizzlies in the fourth quarter at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on March 15, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
(Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

 

It wasn’t surprising that the Indiana Pacers finished the 2021-22 NBA season with a 25-57 win-loss-mark – their worst since the 1984-85 NBA campaign when they won just 22 games.

Back then, Clark Kellogg and Steve Stipanovich donned Pacers Blue and Gold.

Yes, the Pacers aren’t accustomed to hitting rock bottom in the past 25 years or so.

Hopefully, Indy can make some serious strides in 2022-23.

There were several things that held Indiana back this season.

Let’s probe deeper into these factors and see if the Pacers can build on them moving forward.

 

3. Injuries Galore 

The Pacers looked more like an NBA G League Team as the 2021-22 NBA season wound down.

They played without T.J. Warren, T.J. McConnell, Malcolm Brogdon, Myles Turner, and Chris Duarte.

Four of those guys – Warren, Brogdon, Turner, and Duarte – can start when healthy.

With those players sitting it out, Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle could only shuffle a limited deck of cards – a young and inexperienced nucleus featuring Terry Taylor, Duane Washington, Jr., Jalen Smith, Isaiah Jackson, and Oshae Brissett.

The results were predictable – Indy stayed in the bottom rung of the Eastern Conference ladder.

Brogdon, in particular, has always been injury-prone since he entered the league in 2016.

He has never completed an 82-game NBA season.

It’s high-time the Pacers move on from Brogdon and let Tyrese Haliburton emerge as one of the franchise’s cornerstones.

 

2. Playing Atrocious Defense

With Turner sitting out the home stretch of the 2021-22 NBA campaign, Indiana was a lame duck on defense.

Aside from Turner, Indiana’s best defenders were Lance Stephenson and Brissett.

The others weren’t up to the daunting task.

Goga Bitadze hasn’t helped matters – he has played matador defense for the Pacers since breaking into the pro ranks three years ago.

As a unit, the Pacers were one of the league’s laughingstocks in 2021-22.

They ranked 26th in points allowed (114.9 ppg), 30th in opponent field-goal percentage (48.3 percent), and 30th in opponent three-point percentage (37.2 percent).

It seems the time when the Pacers were one of the most feared teams on defense – the days of Paul George, George Hill, Roy Hibbert, David West, and Stephenson – was eons ago.

Clearly, Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard must acquire defensive stoppers via the draft and free agency.

Otherwise, expect teams to shoot lights out against Indy next season.

 

1. Losing Close Games To Inferior Opposition

There’s nothing more agonizing than losing close games to inferior opposition.

That’s exactly what the Pacers did in 2021-22.

Consider the following scores:

  • October 23: Washington (35-47)135, Indiana 134 OT
  • November 6: Portland (27-55)110, Indiana 106
  • February 3: Orlando (22-60) 119, Indiana 118
  • February 26: Oklahoma City (24-58) 129, Indiana 125 OT
  • March 5: Detroit (23-59) 111, Indiana 106
  • March 24: Sacramento (30-52) 110, Indiana 109
  • April 4: Detroit (23-59) 121, Indiana 117

If the Pacers want to make strides in 2022-23, they should beat the inferior teams.

Consecutive losses to woebegone squads such as the Detroit Pistons within a span of a month doesn’t help matters at all.

The Pacers haven’t been this bad in three decades.

However, there’s hope – if they can stay healthy, play better defense, and win close ball games against inferior opposition, they can make serious strides in the 2022-23 NBA campaign.





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