How the Indiana Pacers have performed and injury updates to begin the 2021-22 season

Indiana Pacers, Caris LeVert - Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Indiana Pacers, Caris LeVert - Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports /

The Indiana Pacers start the 2021-22 NBA season with a record of 4-7. Their wins came against the Miami Heat, San Antonio Spurs, New York Knicks, and Sacramento Kings.

Through ten games, the Pacers had yet to win on the road. Then after losing to Portland, they came up with a big win against the Sacramento Kings.

With a tough stretch of games coming up in the month of November, the Pacers will need to figure out a way to win some games with T.J. Warren still getting ready to return.

There have been many takeaways from the Pacers bumpy start. From players stepping up, to lingering health issues, the team has shown some promising things. Also, a look at T.J. Warren’s return timeline and how that affects the Pacers.

Chris Duarte has made a seismic impact right away. With Caris LeVert missing the first four games of the season, he got to prove his game immediately.

He scored 27 points in his NBA debut, setting the Pacers’ rookie to record at least 25 points and five rebounds with five 3-pointers in a game since Jamaal Tinsley in 2002

Through his first ten games, he is averaging 16.1 points, 2.4 assists, and 4.4 rebounds per game. He also averages 33.9 minutes per game.

He is shooting 44.7% from the field and 42.2% from behind the arc through his first eleven games in an NBA uniform.

Duarte has shown to be super effective in shooting pull-up threes. He is 13th in the NBA with a percentage of 39.3:

In the game against the Knicks, Duarte was able to get up the court with the game clock winding down. The way he is able to control the pace, as a rookie, has been a constant throughout the season thus far. He is able to get to his spot and simply hits the tough shot with confidence:

He had this to say after the game:

Rick Carlisle has shown great trust in the rookie as well. He gave Duarte the green light to potentially win the game when the Pacers played the Miami Heat. It almost went in.

Although he missed, you can tell that he is confident in his shot – the shooting percentages speak for themselves:

Along with his confidence offensively, he has been a solid defender as well. Taking on matchups like Jimmy Butler and Kemba Walker without hesitation.

This is another example of how savvy he is at reading the situation during the game. After RJ Barret gets the rebound Duarte waits back until Barret attempts a dribble (making it harder for Barret to control the ball) and is able to strip it out of his hands.

Then, he gets an easy two with a friendly bounce. Very McConnell like:

I look forward to seeing his impact on the defensive end as the Pacers continue to regain a healthy roster. So far, he has had a steal in each game he has played in, minus the Milwaukee Bucks.

Duarte has provided the Pacers with much-needed depth and proved he is a starting-caliber player. Pretty good value at pick No. 13.

Injuries have been a problem for the Pacers over the past few seasons, so how has it affected their season in 2021?

There is now optimism within the organization that T.J. Warren could return in the Dec. or Jan. timeframe.

He was shooting pregame for the season opener in Charlotte with a boot on his foot. He has now missed 308 days with his foot injury.

The boot has since been removed and Warren has done some shooting in the Pacers’ practice facility, Pat Boylan reports:

The Pacers have basically been without Warren for a full season, and there is no question they miss an extra body who can create his own shot.

Warren, in time, can hopefully “fill the gas tank” for this Pacers team that has been just waiting for its chance to go into a game with complete health.

Warren’s return brings interesting questions as well in terms of what happens to Chris Duarte’s starting role. Maybe the team will start with Warren coming off the bench to get him reacclimated slowly into play.

When he is a full go, It seems like a bench lineup of T.J. McConnell, Chris Duarte, Justin Holiday, Torrey Craig, and a center would be a likely fit.

Nonetheless, Carlisle will have to find a way to manage those minutes with how well Duarte has performed over the first 10 games.

Caris LeVert missed the first six games of the season, resulting in a 1-5 start. Two of those losses were by just one point to both the Charlotte Hornets and the Washington Wizards.

Since his return, Caris has slowly been reacclimating to the pace of the NBA game. He is averaging 17.2 points, 4.2 assists, and 3 rebounds per game. He is shooting 38% from the field.

The Pacers get a self creator back and a guard who can handle the ball well into the lineup.

LeVert has been able to hit some tough shots and even a buzzer-beater against the Spurs that reminded me of the Victor Oladipo game-winner a few seasons ago:

An unfortunate break for Isaiah Jackson, the Pacers’ 22nd pick, is out for an indefinite period of time after sustaining a hyperextended knee against Toronto.

Rick Carlisle gave an update on his status saying he will miss some time:

Jackson played in just two games prior to getting hurt. He only had nine minutes against Toronto and just two minutes in his first game versus the Heat.

He then played nine minutes in the game versus Toronto before his injury late in the game.

His athleticism and defensive presence on the glass were noteworthy. He gets himself in a good position to make a play on the ball and when it bounces his way, he goes right up for the score:

Jackson was fun to watch in the preseason and in his first two NBA games. Hopefully, he can recover quickly and get back to the Pacers bench to showcase more of his insane athleticism.

Jackson is just 19 years old and has shown a lot of good things on the defensive end of the floor.

Malcolm Brogdon has missed five of the eleven Pacers games thus far, three of them due to a hamstring strain and the past two games due to illness.

Brogdon is having a terrific start to the year and there is no question the Pacers miss his ball-handling when he’s out.

Brogdon is averaging 22.2 points, 7 assists, and 7 rebounds per game shooting 44.9% from the field and just 25% from behind the arc.

Expect his three-point percentage to jump, as he’s only participated in six games thus far.

In addition to his passing game, he’s been fantastic at beating guys off the dribble and getting to the rim. In fact, it is where all of his made shot attempts came from when they played the New York Knicks:

Brogdon was listed as questionable to play on the road with that illness versus Sacramento, but the Pacers get a two-day break before playing the Denver Nuggets on Nov. 10th.

T.J. McConnell has stepped up big in the absence of Brogdon. He averages 9.1 points and 5 assists on the season.

With Brogdon out, he put up 19 points against the Blazers and 18 against Sacramento. He has been an active rebounder as well, with seven in each of these games.

He was caught with a few bad passes in Sacramento, but he kept his energy high, hitting some tough shots down the stretch:

One stat that will jump out on paper, McConnell is shooting 40% from three this year.

Now of course you don’t expect this to hold up, but he made three of his four attempts against the Blazers which lead to this pretty number on the stat sheet.

McConnell is a career 33% three-point shooter on .07 attempts.

The Pacers will play some tough games on the road this week, with Denver tomorrow followed by the Utah Jazz the following day – the team is fortunate to catch a two-day break between that back-to-back mark.

Then they will return home to play the 76’ers – Joel Embiid will likely not play due to health and safety protocols.

Next. 4 way-too-early trade deadline predictions for the Pacers. dark