Negative: Inability to hit free throws
This has been a sneaky problem so far into the season, and it was only a matter of time until it almost affected the outcome of a game.
So far this year, the Pacers are ranked 16th in the league in free throw percentage, at a 76.7% clip. While this isn’t an overly awful mark, certainly not as bad as the 67.4% of the 30th-ranked Denver Nuggets, it is still a point of concern, especially when you end up with two guys on the team that missed three free throws.
Of course, this isn’t a team-wide problem, as, for the most part, the Pacers players can hit free throws. Case in point: Tyrese Haliburton shooting 8/9 or Myles Turner shooting 5/6.
However, for two players specifically (Aaron Nesmith and Bennedict Mathurin), this was quite the problem on the night.
While Nesmith had a good game otherwise, putting up 13 points on 5/8 shooting and hitting some big shots down the stretch, his free throws were not a strong suit, as he only hit 1/4 and missed out on some extra momentum for the Pacers because of it.
Mathurin, on the other hand, is a completely different story, as he did not have a good game scoring-wise, only recording five points on 2/7 shooting and shooting 0/3 from the line on top of that.
While this doesn’t seem like a huge problem on paper, during the game, it did stick out, as a lot of the missed free throws came in the third quarter while Cleveland was making their run to come back, and some extra points from the charity stripe from Indiana could have helped in limit their run and even prevent them from taking the lead altogether at times.
While I do not think free-throw shooting will be a major problem going forward for this Pacers team, I do think missed free throws are something the Pacers want to limit. They’re free for a reason, after all.