3. Playing down to competition
This is perhaps the second most frustrating thing from the Pacers this season, aside from defense. I said this after the Pistons and Raptors games, but the Pacers truly do not know their own strength.
This has been so much of an issue so far, in fact, that it may warrant its own article breaking everything down. To keep it short for now, the Pacers have routinely been in dogfights with teams they should realistically be pummeling and not giving much attention to.
Besides their Opening Night win against Washington, and the blowout against San Antonio, the Pacers have not exactly had a wire-to-wire victory. Their first matchup with an injured Cleveland team came down to the wire and required Tyrese Haliburton's heroics to get them a victory.
This was followed by a close home loss against the currently 5-13 Chicago Bulls and a blowout loss against Boston. After barely beating a healthy Cleveland team, Indiana once again suffered a home loss, this time to the Charlotte Hornets in the final minutes, a team that is currently 5-10 and was missing Miles Bridges at the time.
Following the aforementioned Spurs blowout, the Pacers once again got a win against a bottomfeeding team off fourth-quarter runs, this time beating the Utah Jazz after Utah kept it close for the first three quarters.
Finally, while the final score of the Detroit game looks impressive, this was also due to fourth-quarter runs and some stellar defense down the stretch, as the Pacers only led by one after three quarters.
In recent weeks, the Pacers' inability to take advantage of inferior teams' mismatches has gone from a small concern to a large problem and could come back to bite them in the playoffs and maybe even cause them to miss the playoffs altogether.
Indiana fans have relatively high expectations for the team this season, and one of those is for them to at least take advantage of inferior teams and get some easy wins, especially if they're on their home floor.
This loss puts the Pacers in the seventh seed in the East at 9-7 as they look towards two matchups with the fifth-seeded Miami Heat on Thursday and Saturday.