Positive takeaways from Pacers’ Rookies in loss to Miami Heat

Indiana Pacers, Chris Duarte - Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Indiana Pacers, Chris Duarte - Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports /

The Indiana Pacers lose to the Miami Heat, without Jimmy Butler or Bam Adebayo, by 29 points (125-96). The team was out of rhythm all night and the momentum never carried the Pacers’ way.

Justin Holiday was 2/10 from the field. Caris LeVert was 4/15. Where are the positives you may ask?

Both of the Pacers’ first-round draft picks got playing time and looked good despite the loss.

Both Chris Duarte and Isaiah Jackson got to play in this game due to the blowout lead Miami held for the majority of the contest.

Chris Duarte tied Caris LeVert for a team-high in points with 17 points. Duarte was 5/7 from the field and 3/4 from behind the arc (75%).

He had four rebounds and two assists as well.

All of Duarte’s made threes were simple catch-and-shoot shot attempts. This one, in particular, was my favorite because of how Sabonis sets him up:

After Brad Wannamaker passes to Domantas Sabonis, the defense knows they have to help or there is just an easy basket opportunity with Myles Turner at the rim.

Sabonis sees Duarte as soon as he catches the ball. He takes a dribble towards the basket to draw the defense in towards him.

When they collapse on him he waits for Duarte to run to the corner. This was a great play from Sabonis and Duarte which resulted in an easy three-point shot for Duarte.

Then look at this impressive play from Duarte in transition:

After grabbing the rebound Duarte pushes up the court. When he realizes he has a one on one opportunity with Max Strus, he takes advantage of his momentum.

Duarte hits Strus with an impressive euro-step and finishes the shot. It seems simple but that’s what you want to see from your rookie – a great play.

Duarte came off the bench again since Justin Holiday returned from health and safety protocols and played just 18 minutes in the game.

Isaiah Jackson played the most minutes of his NBA Career in his 8th game played against the Miami Heat.

He was in for twelve minutes.

In that time, he scored 6 points and grabbed 4 rebounds, missing just one of his three shot attempts. He also had a steal.

Watch here as he pushes the court in transition after Jeremy Lamb gets the rebound:

After Torrey Craig gets the pass from Lamb, Jackson goes straight up with the shot a finishes strong through contact.

He has a good feel around the basket and of course, has the athleticism to make his presence felt down low.

Jackson’s one other made shot came from, you guessed it the paint as well:

Jackson’s patience here is fantastic. After he sets up Oshae Brissett to drive he waits for the ball to either come to him or knows he is in position for a rebound with a look.

This is exactly what he got and it resulted in an easy two points.

Jackson has spent time with the Mad Ants – Pacers’ G-League affiliate and showcased his defensive ability to block shots as well.

He lead the entire G-League in blocks per game with 3.3.

He is the youngest Pacer on the roster at just 19 years old, so his growth will be something to monitor throughout the season.

The Indiana Pacers will finish out the month of December with three home games against the Rockets, Bulls, and Hornets.