Big Pacers changes are needed amid disastrous 4-game skid

As the Indiana Pacers' struggles continue, it's clear that some changes are needed.
Indiana Pacers, LA Clippers, Tyrese Haliburton, Bennedict Mathurin
Indiana Pacers, LA Clippers, Tyrese Haliburton, Bennedict Mathurin / Dylan Buell/GettyImages

Ever since making the In-Season Tournament finals, the Indiana Pacers have been missing the mark for the most part. Nine days after taking the Lakers to the limit in Las Vegas, the Pacers have seemingly stagnated, going 1-4 in their last five games and losing the last four games in a row, including an embarrassing blowout loss to the bottom-feeding Washington Wizards.

On Monday, the Pacers experienced their fourth loss in a row as they fell to the Los Angeles Clippers in Indiana in a game where James Harden went for 40 points, Kawhi Leonard went for 28, and former Pacer Paul George went for 27 amidst requests from Pacers fans to not shower him with boos like they did in years past.

The reception of one of Indiana's most polarizing stars would be the least of Indiana's concerns on the night, as it would turn out. For the fourth time in a row, the Pacers were embarrassed and humiliated to the tune of a 151-127 blowout, with this being the third time Indiana has given up over 150 points to the opposing team this year and the second time it has come in a loss.

While the Pacers have had alarming issues all season, whether defensive, rotational, or offensive, these issues have been increasingly more prevalent in the last week or so.

Ever since the In-Season Tournament game and the bounce-back win against Detroit, the worst team in the league, the Pacers have looked out of sync and confused on both ends of the floor, with superstar Tyrese Haliburton pointing that out and putting the pressure on himself to get better.

Indeed, fans have noticed this relative sluggishness from the otherwise spry and active point guard, pointing out that he may still not be fully recovered from the recent knee issues that kept him out of action in Indiana's loss to Minnesota on Saturday, noting his increasingly passive nature and complete unwillingness to go into contact as he usually does.

Haliburton's issues aside, this team needs to be better if they want to make a splash in the postseason or even make it there. With this last loss to the Clippers, Indiana now sits at a 13-12 record after being 12-8 following the conclusion of the IST.

This new record has Indiana sitting as the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference, completely out of a guaranteed playoff spot and now hovering around Play-In territory.

In addition to this, these issues that have stifled Indiana all season and are now getting more alarming do not seem to be going anywhere. The defense is worse than ever, the offense is just as stagnant without Haliburton and seemingly does not improve much with him leading the show now, potentially due to injury or outside factors. Also, and this may be the most under-talked-about issue, the rotations do not make sense.

Ever since the loss to the Lakers in the tournament finals, fans have been clamoring for Rick Carlisle and company to make some changes to the rotation, most notably promoting Aaron Nesmith and Bennedict Mathurin to the starting lineup in exchange for Buddy Hield and Bruce Brown.

This has not been the case. Despite their dwindling performances, Brown and Hield have remained the starters for this team and have relatively underperformed given expectations, especially for Brown and his $20 million contract.

Just last game, Bennedict Mathurin put up a career-high 34 points on 12/20 shooting and 3/7 from three. However, given Rick Carlisle's known stubbornness with young players and rotations, this may not lead to more minutes for the youngster as he seemingly lost Carlisle's trust as a starter earlier in the season, being demoted to the bench for Buddy Hield on November 21 and not having started a game since then.

This, combined with Rick Carlisle's over-reliance on veterans even if they are not producing well, has left Pacers fans frustrated that one of the youngest teams in the league is putting such little stock into their youngest players, and this is without even mentioning Jarace Walker and his struggles with getting playing time.

The Indiana Pacers have not been doing great as of late. That much is certain.

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With the honeymoon phase of the season being over and Pacers fans getting more frustrated by the day, a change is very clearly needed. Whether that be a trade, a rotation change, or something more drastic, Indiana fans will not stand for this type of basketball, and rightfully so.