Injuries unsurprisingly expose weaknesses of the Indiana Pacers

The Indiana Pacers (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
The Indiana Pacers (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

With Victor Oladipo and Myles Turner missing time, some of the Indiana Pacers weaknesses are exposed for all to see.

It’s clear how important Victor Oladipo is to the Indiana Pacers success. Their record is 3-9 without him over the past few seasons and two of those wins came this year in surprisingly easy routs of the Utah Jazz.

But a somewhat more subtle exposure of the Pacers’ weaknesses came when Myles Turner sat out against the San Antonio Spurs. While Domantas Sabonis’ scoring often steals the show, the fact his defense hardly affects his opponents was evident.

And LaMarcus Aldridge went to town on him and the Pacers. Whereas Myles Turner shut down Aldridge in the first meeting, Sabonis struggled to stop LMA from scoring. He scored 17 of his 33 points when matched up against Sabonis according to

A small sample size like that isn’t entirely fair to Sabonis, it does show his defense is still a work in progress. His offense and rebounding cover up this fact — 19 points and 16 rebounds vs San Antonio — but it’s the reason why Nate McMillan hasn’t catapulted him into the starting center role. Indiana needs Turner’s defense more than Sabonis’ offense.

None of this is to blame Sabonis in particular, but it was one of the weaknesses we saw exposed in recent games. Turner returned for another thrashing of the Jazz, and unsurprisingly, the defense improved.

A missing player cuts two different ways

It’s obvious when Victor Oladipo is out that Indiana is missing their best scorer, their clutch shooter, and arguably best defender. But on top of that, whoever moves up to fill that void leaves another void behind themselves.

Even if you could replace Oladipo with Tyreke Evans, you then have to figure out who is replacing Evans minutes.

And when Evan fails to produce in those replacement minutes, the problem is exacerbated. Tyreke only averaged 8.8 on percent shooting, and that includes his improved performance in the second Jazz win with 14 points on 50 percent shooting.

Numbers like that make it little surprise that Indiana is 4-5 in games he scores under 10 points and 8-3 in games when he scores in double-digits. The Pacers need his scoring in games with Oladipo present, so it’s even more critical he scores when the team’s star is healing up on the bench.

Aaron Holiday might one day answer where Indiana can get scoring from when Oladipo is out, but as a rookie, there is an obvious learning curve. His confidence and scoring his there — 11 points on 44.7 percent shooting in the last 5 games — but his 3-point shooting, fouls, and turnovers still need work.

Next man up

Filling those voids isn’t an easy task. As liked as Kyle O’Quinn is, there is a reason he’s the third-string center. But he still finds ways to soak up minutes without bleeding out points. So, frankly, he is perfect for his role.

More from 8 Points, 9 Seconds

And that’s an advantage Indiana has this season. As I’ve said before, the overall depth of the bench doesn’t leave Indiana helpless. That doesn’t make it easy to win with one or two key pieces missing, but as we saw in a SEGABABA win over the Phoenix Suns, they can almost count on someone stepping up like Doug McDermott did in his 21-point outing.

The Pacers showed an ability to evolve by working to get McDermott more opportunities. It started in earnest against the Charlotte Hornets, but he got rolling against the Jazz and kept that hot hand warm against the Suns.

Despite averaging 7.1 points on the season, McDermott went a combined 15 of 25 (60 percent) in the last two games and 7 of 10 from deep. If that keeps going both without Oladipo and with him, then the Oladipo absence will have at least one silver lining.

More consistently, Bojan Bogdanovic increased his scoring by roughly three points a game while Oladipo is sidelined. His 18.3 points a game over the last 5 contests come on 59.3 percent shooting, a slight increase from his season average.

Even for the complaints about Evans in recent games, his assists and rebounds are up in Oladipo’s absence. There’s room for improvement, but it isn’t as if he is missing the mark entirely.

More positively, the same could be said for Thaddeus Young as his numbers improved over the past five games as well. His scoring is up to 11.8 a game while his field goal percentage rose to 51.9 percent.

Next. The Pacers free throw struggles go beyond misses. dark

They’ll still be weaknesses exposed when players go down, but the Indiana Pacers are better equip to cover up those weak points in the short-term.