Indiana Pacers: Struggles against elite scoring point guards continue

Zach LaVine, Indiana Pacers (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)
Zach LaVine, Indiana Pacers (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Indiana Pacers have had a strong season to date, but they continue to have trouble dealing with lead guards that can get a bucket in a pinch.

In a conversation with another fan, he was adamant that the Indiana Pacers needed to go 4-1 on the team’s recent west coast road trip after the win in San Francisco over the Warriors.

However, I knew better than to assume that they would walk into Portland and cruise to a win. My reply was that I fully expect Damian Lillard to drop 50 points and for the game to be a battle.

Sure enough, Lillard dropped 50 and it was a loss.

This is just a continuation of a seasonal theme for the Blue and Gold. The game just before the bout with Portland, D’Angelo Russell couldn’t miss either.

The Pacers have been a sieve for high-scoring backcourt opponents, but mainly point guards.

Of the top-10 scoring point guards in the league from ESPN, it is a laundry list of players who have burnt the Pacers.

Trae Young torched Indiana three times. Fortunately, the Hawks were only able to claim one of those games.

Young scored 113 points in three games for an average of 37.7 points per game. Clearly over his average.

Kemba Walker of the Celtics scored 44 points in a losing effort. He joins Lillard and Young in going well over their scoring average against the Blue and Gold.

While ESPN lists him as a point guard, Zach LaVine is clearly more of a two-guard. Regardless, he has blown the Pacers up as well.

LaVine scored 43 points on 14-of-23 from the floor on January 10th.

In another game against Indiana, LaVine scored 21, while just last night in Bankers Life Fieldhouse he had 20.  Fairly pedestrian comparatively speaking but still above his season average.

Like LaVine, Spencer Dinwiddie is listed as a point guard by ESPN. In his two games early in the season against the Pacers, he scored 28 and 20, with a season average of 21 points per game.

Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz scored 26 and 25, which is above his average as well.

With both games being blowouts, Mitchell played just over 30 minutes per game in the two contests.

Toronto’s Kyle Lowry is averaging just under 20 points per game on the season.

In his lone game against the Pacers, he scored 30. With three more games against the Raptors this month, he has more opportunities to do damage.

Lately, Indiana has been shifting its defense to put T.J. Warren on the opposing teams’ best scorer.

It didn’t really end well against Lillard and Russell on the road trip, but only time will tell if that helps ease the issue.

It’s true that some of these games were without Malcolm Brogdon. However, the issue is the total time he has already missed plus the trend continuing with him on the floor as well.

Sure, the players listed above are elite scorers and are extremely skilled shot-makers. However, the fact that all of them are above their season average against Indiana becomes a trend rather than a coincidence.

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The moral of the story, the Pacers could run into some trouble in a playoff series against a scoring point guard down the road. Now is the time to figure out how to solve this issue.