Earlier this year, they lost by 51 points to the Boston Celtics, but they were without Tyrese Haliburton in that game, and against the Magic, the Pacers just wilted.
Now, they are staring a contest with the Atlanta Hawks in the face as they will travel down south to take on Trae Young and Dejounte Murray on Tuesday night.
For the Pacers, this contest should be the perfect test after their brutal loss to the Magic, as it will provide them with a great opportunity to improve upon one of their biggest issues: Defense.
Heading into the game on Tuesday, the Hawks have the sixth-best offensive rating in the NBA at 117.0. That’s on par with the Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks and a couple of spots ahead of the reigning NBA Champion Denver Nuggets.
Indiana has the fifth-worst defensive rating in the league at 118.4, slating them just barely ahead of the Washington Wizards, who are one of the worst teams in the NBA.
Going up against one of the league’s most potent offenses will give the Pacers a chance to test their defense and make improvements. If they want to seriously compete for a playoff spot, that’s exactly what they need to do.
Slowing down Young, Murray, Jalen Johnson, and the rest of the Hawks will be a big challenge for the Pacers but a very, very necessary one. And luckily for Indiana, it’s a challenge that comes with an equal potential for a win.
See, while the Hawks have one of the league’s best offenses, much like the Pacers, they also have one of the worst defenses in the NBA. Their defensive rating ranks 21st at 115.2.
By all accounts, this game should be a shootout, meaning the Pacers should have a chance to win. However, if the Pacers were to pick a goal, it should be to prevent that.
Their defense has been a huge problem, so their offense should be able to lead the way against the Hawks, but Indiana should attempt to do the opposite.
Going up against one of the best offenses in the league, the Pacers should look at this game as a chance to improve their defense while also using their offense to shoot for a win.