Negative: Lack of defense
This is perhaps the most glaring issue the Indiana Pacers have had so far. The team’s defense is just not there yet and oftentimes digs the Pacers into hopes they cannot take themselves out by the time the final buzzer sounds.
The Pacers’ struggles on defense are often most evident in the first quarter, as the team usually starts off slow but allows a nice opening run by their opponents, as we saw in the Wizards and Cavs game.
Despite wins in both, the Pacers made it harder for themselves than it should have been, with Tyus Jones and Danilo Gallinari having great first quarters in the first game and Caris LeVert exploding for a 22-point first quarter in the second game.
While the Pacers did outscore the Chicago Bulls in the first quarter of their matchup, they still ended up on the losing side due to laziness and half-hearted defense by the end of the game, most notably when they let Alex Caruso get a wide-open fastbreak dunk that iced the game, despite it coming before the controversial foul call on Andrew Nembhard.
These defensive issues were furthered in the next game, with the Pacers allowing a whopping 155 points from the Boston Celtics, good enough for the third-most points in a game in Celtics history. This harrowing performance from Indiana was bad enough to rank them 29th in the league in defensive rating, only trailing the Milwaukee Bucks.
While it is true that having 155 points scored on you in one of four games is going to skew the sample just a bit, that game is not an isolated case.
The Indiana Pacers also raised some eyebrows by allowing the lottery-bound Wizards to score 120 points on them on opening night, despite scoring 143 themselves, and their defensive ways caught up to them in the final minutes of the Bulls game, letting Nikola Vucevic have his way in the paint and even letting DeMar DeRozan break out of his dry spell with some clutch buckets.
Perhaps playing your lottery pick, who is known for his defense and hustle, can help with these issues, and perhaps not. All I know is that it certainly wouldn’t hurt.