Negative: Pacers play worst defense of season
Stagnating on offense against the league's best defense is one thing. Not being able to guard one of the league's worst offenses is quite another.
On Sunday, the Pacers showed exactly how unremarkable their defense really is when they let the sixth-worst offense in the league score 128 points on them and only have two turnovers at the end of the first half.
The first half was an expressway to the rim for the most part, as Paolo Banchero scored 16 points, Jalen Suggs scored 16, Franz Wagner, Mo Wagner, and Gary Harris added nine, and Cole Anthony chipped in seven as well.
Banchero, in particular, had a game to remember, as he scored 24 points on the night, shooting 9/14, and even talked trash to his 2022 draft classmate Bennedict Mathurin, calling him out for his lack of defense, which was more than noticeable on the night.
It wasn't just Mathurin who couldn't guard the Magic. Nobody could. Orlando shot 59% from the field and 44% from beyond the arc in the first half en route to a 78-44 lead. The second half was not as kind to the Magic, as they shot 36% from the field and 27% from three, but at that point, the damage had already been done, and the Pacers' comeback was too little, too late.
Overall, this game was very surprising to fans all around the league, as nobody had expected the Pacers and Magic to be atop the league in offense and defense, respectively, coming into Sunday, but what everyone got was not what they anticipated or asked for.
The Magic had the league's #1 offense begging for mercy for the first half, and by the second half, the Pacers had already dug themselves into too deep of a hole and couldn't mount a comeback against the worst 2nd-half team in the league.
This game will go down as a learning experience for Indiana as they roll into Tuesday's In-Season Tournament matchup in Atlanta, a game that Tyrese Haliburton will look to bounce back in after an abysmal performance on Sunday.
Of course, with the Kings/Pacers trade continuously being revisited, some people feel some type of way about Haliburton, and he will be looking to prove them wrong come Tuesday.