Recent Pacers loss to Raptors highlights 2 major issues

The Indiana Pacers' recent loss to the Toronto Raptors highlights two of the team's biggest issues.

Indiana Pacers, Tyrese Haliburton, Toronto Raptors
Indiana Pacers, Tyrese Haliburton, Toronto Raptors / Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Indiana Pacers have two glaring problems that have reared their ugly head in their most recent game. Despite Bennedict Mathurin tying his career-high and Pascal Siakam scoring 27 points, Indiana ended up on the losing side of their Monday battle with the Toronto Raptors, losing 130-122 after allowing a staggering 78 points in the paint.

Tyrese Haliburton, in particular, struggled mightily on the night, scoring just eight points on 2-11 from the field and only dishing out seven assists as the Pacers lost all the momentum the bench gave them when Haliburton and the starters subbed in.

This loss not only dropped the Pacers out of contention for fifth place in the East, but it dropped them back into play-In territory, the exact territory they avoided on Sunday after the resounding win against Dallas. Currently, Indiana sits as the seventh seed, tied with Miami but losing the tiebreaker and only half a game ahead of Orlando, the current eighth seed.

Besides taking them back into the play-in picture, the loss to Toronto highlights two of the bigger issues with the Pacers this season, the first being losing to bad teams.

It has been mentioned before, but the Pacers tend to struggle mightily with bad teams. This season they have suffered notable losses against the Hornets twice, the Jazz, the Wizards, the Bulls, the Trail Blazers twice, and now the Raptors for the second time.

These types of performances are completely inexcusable, as the Pacers could certainly use some of those wins right about now to help their standing.

Let's say instead of losing nine of those games, the Pacers only lose four. That leaves Indiana with a 38-21 record, which puts them as the third seed, right above the Milwaukee Bucks, and primed for a matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round, a quite favorable matchup, all things considered, and certainly better than the potential Celtics matchup that could come from a play-in berth.

Long story short, the Pacers have blown plenty of winnable games against inferior teams that will come back to bite them if they do not pick up their play in the rest of the season.

The second problem more or less falls in line with the first, and that is their lack of effort and winning on the second night of back-to-backs. After the Raptors game, Indiana is now 2-9 on the second night of back-to-backs, which is second worst in the league only ahead of the bottom-dwelling Wizards, to whom Indiana lost to earlier in the season.

While it is true that Indiana's fast-paced offense often leaves the players tired and in need of more than a night's rest, it is still next to inexcusable for a bonafide playoff team to drop so many winnable games, especially when five of them were some of the aforementioned losses to worse teams mentioned earlier. Indiana has to pick it up on both fronts as the season goes on.

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What separates a good team from a great team is their ability to pounce on a win when presented to them, and the Pacers have routinely let a win slip through their fingers, just like they did on Monday. Let's hope Wednesday against New Orleans will be kinder to the Pacers as if they drop this one, there will be trouble ahead.