Well…that came out of nowhere.
Another week is in the books for the Pacers’ 2013/14 season and it’s safe to say that this was the worst week in quite some time. I mean seriously, what the hell happened?
Indiana went an abysmal 1-3 on the week and is currently riding a three-game losing streak. It looks to stop the bleeding on the road tonight against the Dallas Mavericks at 7:30 PM ET. Lets hope Indiana gets it together.
The week started alright with a victory over a pretty bad Utah Jazz squad but then tail-spinned out of control with consecutive losses to Golden State, Charlotte and Houston. The last loss being the most brutal. The Rockets dominated the Pacers en route to a 112-86 victory; the worst loss of the year for Indiana. The Pacers players are beginning to express some frustration and maybe the pressure of being the top team (or one of them) in the league, has finally caught up with them. Either way, the time to get the ship headed in the right direction is now.
What Went Right:
Not much went right this week for Indiana. Fortunately, despite their losing streak, the Pacers were the first team to clinch a playoff spot and they still hold the NBA’s best record (46-16). Although, in the midst of a slump like this, accolades only mean so much.
What Went Wrong:
What didn’t? The Pacers’ top scores all fell into a simultaneous shooting slump. As this week has proved, that makes it quite hard to compete. Superstar Paul George had a combined 15 points in the previous two games. Earlier in the season, a stat like that would have seemed inconceivable. Not to be outdone, 7-foot-2 Roy Hibbert had only 13 points in the previous two games. Lance Stephenson has finally cooled off a bit and it couldn’t have come at a worse time. New comer Evan Turner exploded for 22 points in the Pacers’ loss to Charlotte but mustered up 13 combined points in the other three games last week. Some believe it is time to be concerned.
What They Are Saying:
Appropriately, the Pacers don’t seemed focused on the big picture right now but rather on just ending this current skid. Roy Hibbert said,
“We haven’t talked about the [No. 1 seed] in awhile… We just need to win games at this point. Something has got to change. Something is going to be addressed.”
Head Coach Frank Vogel sees this losing streak a little differently, citing the opposing team’s approach as why this slump is continuing as he said,
“Every team we play is playing above themselves,” He continued, “Our guys can talk about being the hunted but it’s a different thing to feel it. These teams are coming at us with great force and we’re going to have to rise to the challenge.”
George, the team leader, is preaching that the Pacers just get back to basics as he said,
“We have to get back to what the Indiana Pacers used to be… When teams came to play us, they knew it was going to be a long night.”
Thanks to ESPN.com for the quotes.
There is really only one storyline for the Pacers and it can be found in all of the Pacers’ quotes. Just win baby. Can the Pacers get back to the basics and remember how to play Indiana basketball? That involves playing the brand of intense team defense that they are known for, as well as getting quality scoring from their top players; something that’s been missing as of late. Can the Pacers continue to hold the best record in the NBA? The Oklahoma City Thunder are now tied for the best record, after the Pacers’ skid. Despite Indiana’s recent struggle one storyline that won’t develop is “Will they win the division?” It has had the Central Division championship on lock for quite some time now (It currently holds a 12 game lead over Chicago…wow). Side note, some think that the Pacers messed their chemistry with their late-season trade of Danny Granger for Turner. Is a lack of chemistry to blame for the current slide?
A Look At The Playoff Race:
At the moment, the Pacers are 1 1/2 games up on their rivals to the south — the Miami Heat. The Heat are, in fact, heating up with an 8-2 record in their last 10 games. When put up next to the Pacers’ current losing streak, it makes it quite apparent that securing the one-seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs will be quite difficult. The Pacers need to win tonight to gain some confidence back. Simply put, they need to win tonight just to be able to breathe again.
Highlight Of The Week:
This scuffle between Tuner and James Harden sums up last week and the frustration that the Pacers are feeling. Hopefully this passion will translate into victories in the coming days.
Player Of The Week: David West
Not that any player completely dominated this week but it has to be West. West has been the only player that has consistently scored and competed at the level that the Pacers expect. That is why he is the Pacers Crown Royal Player of the Week. He put up 25, 27, 10 and 15 points up this week. Hopefully his strong play continues, and the other Pacers begin to heat up and get out of their slumps. If that is the case, Indiana could easily find itself on a winning streak that would help all Pacer fans forget this week.
Grade For The Week: D-
Plain and simple, the Pacers were not executing well in any facet of their game. They did not receive a failing grade because they did secure one win and still have the best record in the NBA; for now that is.
Forecasting Next Week:
The next week for the Pacers is filled with subpar teams. Only one of their next four opponents has a winning record and that’s the Mavericks; who they face tonight. After that, the Pacers play Boston, Philadelphia and Detroit. Those are games the Pacers of a month ago would have ran all over. Beggars can’t be choosers, but anything less than a 3-1 record will be disappointing. Although, I suppose after how bad this week was, 2-2 wouldn’t be the end of the world. Who will step up for the Pacers this week? Will it be George Hill, Stephenson, George, Hibbert or someone else? Some believe Hibbert will be the Pacer who steps up.