Defeating sub-.500 teams is the key to the playoffs for the Pacers

One thing the Pacers have struggled with has been beating bottom-of-the-standing teams and in their last six games, they play three of those teams.

Brooklyn Nets v Indiana Pacers
Brooklyn Nets v Indiana Pacers / Dylan Buell/GettyImages
facebooktwitterreddit

After an impressive 133-111 win at home vs the Brooklyn Nets which saw Tyrese Haliburton score 27 to go along with 12 assists, the Pacers have six games left in the regular season. Those games are against the Nets, Thunder, Heat, Raptors, Cavaliers and Hawks.

Three of the mentioned teams are sub .500, meaning they have losing records. The Pacers have dropped 13 games this season to the bottom-tier teams, including two against the Trail Blazers who are 19-56, two against the 18-57 Hornets, a bad loss to the 18-57 Spurs, and one to the 14-61 Wizards. In all of these games, the Pacers were favorites and ended up underperforming heavily. Against top-seeded teams, the Pacers have matched up very well, 4-1 vs the Bucks, 2-3 vs the Celtics, and 1-1 vs all of the California teams.

During this final stretch where the Pacers are only a game above the seventh seed, it is important to not drop these lower-end matchups. They have beaten the Nets in both meetings so far this season, but against the Raptors they are 1-2. Against the Hawks, they are 3-0. The Pistons and Nets are the other two sub-.500 teams the Pacers are undefeated against this season.

The Pacers must beat the bad teams to get where they want to go

In these games, the Pacers need to not only rely on their big three but also lean heavily on their bench play. With nine players averaging nine or more points, there will always be a high-scoring offensive game, but they need to make sure the defense can step up, so they are not dropping 145 points and losing.

Leading the league in both points and field goal percentage, the Pacers have won many games on offense but lost many games on defense. They allow 120.4 points per game which is 30th in the league, If they want to secure a fourth through six spot in the East they must first beat the worst teams, but also have a more consistent defensive approach. Players like Andrew Nembhard, Aaron Nesmith, and Jalen Smith are some of the top defenders and many of the defensive possessions will come down to these players.

manual

A 4-2 stretch or hopefully 5-1 and even 6-0 would be perfect to finish out the season. They cannot afford to go 3-3 or worse because a team like the Heat or the 76ers can slide into that sixth spot.