2. Buddy Hield's misfortunes
This was just ugly. Prior to this game, I was of the belief that Buddy Hield replacing Bennedict Mathurin in the starting lineup would be a good move, as it would allow Hield to get more minutes alongside Tyrese Haliburton and for Mathurin to shine with the second unit and possibly make a run at Sixth Man of the Year.
However, that could not have been further from the truth on Thursday. While Mathurin was solid on the night, scoring 12 points on 5/7 shooting, Hield was downright atrocious. In just one night, one of the greatest shooters of all time turned ice cold and painful to watch as he missed shot after shot and dug Indiana's hole deeper in the fourth quarter.
Overall, Hield's 12 points came on putrid 5/16 shooting and a disgusting 2/11 from beyond the arc, with his only three-pointers coming at the beginning and end of the fourth quarter.
Hield was so bad, in fact, that you could say his fourth-quarter problems effectively cost Indiana the game. While missed free throws are not fun, they were certainly not the only reason why the Pacers lost.
Buddy Hield, however, may be the reason why they did, as almost every one of his 31 minutes on Thursday came with a negative connotation.
While Hield's defense was decent in the first half, it quickly sunk to low levels in the second half, with him not being able to guard anyone and committing unnecessary fouls, leading to him fouling out in the fourth quarter.
Hield's poor play shows in the advanced stats, with his plus/minus of -13 being the second-worst on the team behind Myles Turner. However, while Turner only played a bit under six minutes in the fourth quarter, Hield played the entire quarter up to when he fouled out with only nine seconds remaining.