Indiana Pacers: The good, bad and ugly from the 2020-21 season

Indiana Pacers - Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Indiana Pacers - Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /
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Indiana Pacers
Indiana Pacers – Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports /

The Indiana Pacers were hoarded by a healthy dose of blunders this season

The Bad No. 1: Pacers and locker room drama is new

In the latter part of the season, reports of locker room turmoil brought unwarranted and rare national attention to the Indiana Pacers. These alleged falling-outs between the players and the coaching staff exacerbated a down stretch for the Blue and Gold as they nearly shot themselves in the foot away from even the play-in tourney.

The notable jawing between Goga Bitadze and assistant coach Greg Foster in the loss against Sacramento did nothing but ignite the flames on the chemistry front. While they soon reconciled and the team downplayed the affair as competitive spirits oozing out, this is unfamiliar territory for the Pacers, especially with the team being known for its resiliency in the past few seasons.

The Bad No. 2: The East improved while Indy faltered

As the Indiana Pacers regressed, their counterparts have conversely made tremendous leaps this season. Teams such as the Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets, New York Knicks and Washington Wizards were a lot more competitive than last year, and in addition to the East’s powerhouses, the Blue and Gold couldn’t do anything but look up.

Talent-wise and when healthy, the Pacers have what it takes to even compete for homecourt advantage in the playoffs. But given the rise of their East rivals and the general improvement in the conference, the road to relevancy seems harder to trek by the day.

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The Bad No. 3: What’s next for Aaron?

The Indiana Pacers were high on Aaron Holiday, and despite expectations for him becoming overblown every season, there are layers in the front office putting their trust on the 24-year-old. While he has eclipsed the normal production of a late first-rounder, he has simply regressed this year to an extent where you can only wonder if Indy’s brass overestimated him.

To be fair, a bulk of his decline is a result of lesser court time, playing approximately seven minutes less than last season. However, it’s no asterisk that his inefficiency persists, shooting a career-low 39 percent from the field.

There is still room for the youngest Holiday in Indiana, but with Malcolm Brogdon and LeVert as the obvious alphas in the backcourt, and T.J. McConnell cementing himself as one of the league’s best bench players, finding opportunities to grow donning the Blue and Gold will be more difficult for him.