One minute and ten seconds into the game, Danny Granger hit a three to tie the score at 3-3.
It would take close to 7 more minutes until the Pacers scored another point, at which time the Pacers “closed” the Jazz lead to 15. Yes, they were down by 15 points (20-5) just 8 minutes into the game. And by the time the first quarter ended with Indiana down 32-14, the game was, for all intents and purposes, a wrap.
Only it wasn’t.
The Pacers — shockingly — actually had a chance to get back into this game. Utah simply couldn’t buy a bucket for a loooooong stretch in the second half. From 7 minutes remaining in the third quarter until 6 minutes left in the game (a 13-minute stretch), the Jazz made a grand total of four shots. Four shots in 13 minutes. Four. Four. (Overall, they scored 11 points during this time, as one of those four shots was a Memo Okur three and they hit 3 free-throws.)
To capitalize on this unexpected opportunity to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, how did the Pacers offense respond? It didn’t. Over that same 13-minute stretch, the Pacers put up a measly 15 points on 6/19 shooting, 3/9 from three and 5/10 from the line. How sad.
So while the Jazz were spinning their tires and not putting anything together (which we definitely need to give the Pacers defense some credit for even though it appeared to be mostly the product of Utah just not being able to make any of its jumpers), the Pacers were doing the exact same thing. An offense that came out of of the locker room to start the game by digging itself into a 15-point deficit in the first 8 minutes had had 21 more minutes of game time to get things together — plus another trip back to the locker room during the half to look itself in the mirror.
And it essentially did the exact same thing it had already done.
That’s just pathetic.
We can spend all the time in the world discussing better ways for the interior defense to stop guys like Carlos Boozer from dominating the paint. And we can scratch our heads wondering why perimeter guys like Wesley Matthews (and CJ Watson before him) are able to feel so comfortable out there handling the ball and scoring. By all means, let’s talk about better ways to stop players like Tyreke Evans and Monta Ellis from treating Indy’s perimeter defenders like revolving doorways.
But until this offense can start even remotely resembling a professional basketball team with any consistency, any talk about the defense is premature.
The Pacers finished with an offensive efficiency of 91.6 last night. For the uninitiated, that means that, playing as there did, they would have scored 92 points if they had had 100 offensive possession to work with. The league average offensive production in 100 possessions is 106 points. The Suns put up 115. And even the 1-18 Nets put up 94 points per 100 possessions.
Put simply, the 92 points per 100 possessions that the Pacers managed last night is a terrible, terrible game. But, OK, bad nights happen. It’s a West Coast road trip and Salt Lake is a tough place to play. Maybe we can forgive that type of output for one game.
What we can’t forgive, however, is a miserable, sad, barely professional offense that, over 17 games this season, has now only averaged 105 points per 100 possessions. That’s not a number that will get you anywhere near the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs.
And, honestly, that’s probably not even a number that will get you 28 wins.
UPDATE: I was just running some numbers for another post and figured I would throw another, perhaps more even more glaring figure in here, too.
The league average FG% for an NBA offense is 45.8%. Through 17 games, the Pacers have shot above that mark — the middling standard of a professional basketball team — a grand total of 4 times. Perhaps even worse, the Charlotte Bobcats — a team that is both statistically and qualitatively regarded by many as perhaps one of the worst offenses in NBA history — have the 29th ranked offense in terms of FG% at 42.8%. The Pacers have shot lower than that 7 times.