Huge Pacers problem shows signs of improvement in wins over Heat, Celtics

Over the past two games, the Indiana Pacers have seemingly made some progress toward fixing a problem of theirs.
Indiana Pacers, Boston Celtics, Miami Heat
Indiana Pacers, Boston Celtics, Miami Heat / Megan Briggs/GettyImages

The Indiana Pacers, winners of their past two games, have seen their fair share of fourth-quarter blunders. In seven of their eight losses, the Pacers have been outscored in each of those final periods of play. The exception is their loss to Orlando.

Injuries are not to blame here. The Pacers have a deep roster, so fatigue should not be a factor in these losses.

Tyrese Haliburton is averaging nearly 34 minutes a game, while Bruce Brown is averaging 31.5 minutes. Another five players are above 23 minutes a game, and five more are averaging between 13 and 19 minutes a game.

Three of the eight losses are by four points or less. Another loss was by seven points. All four of these were at home, too.

Indiana has to stop their opponents better late in the game. Losses will amass if the Pacers cannot defend strongly to close out games.

No serious chatter has taken place on the trade front. It remains to be seen whether or not a deal in place would remedy this dilemma for the Pacers.

Teams are finding ways to score on Indiana. Despite the Pacers' fast-paced, high-octane offense, teams are able to keep it close after the first three quarters and then accelerate to close out the game in the final 12 minutes of play.

But something has changed lately.

Indiana gained redemption against Miami. After blowing their lead entering the fourth quarter in the first of two recent games against the Heat, they were outscored 45-32 in the last 12 minutes of play. But in their second game, even without Haliburton, they held onto and even expanded upon their lead in the fourth to earn a win. They outscored the Heat 38-31 in the fourth.

The Pacers extracted a measure of revenge for a previous blowout from the Celtics by winning on Monday night. They outscored Boston 37-34 in the fourth quarter (and 37-23 in the third quarter).

The offense was led by Haliburton's triple double. He tallied 26 points on 10-18 shooting (5-11 from behind the arc). In the 40 minutes Haliburton played, he also recorded 13 assists and 10 rebounds.

Hopefully, for Indiana, these last two wins are a sign of things to come.

Next. 2 Studs, 1 dud from Pacers In-Season Tournament win over Celtics. 2 Studs, 1 dud from Pacers In-Season Tournament win over Celtics. dark

If the Pacers can keep their foot on the gas pedal behind a strong offense and put in the same effort on the defensive end, the Pacers should be able to put more wins on the front end of their record and maybe even make some more noise in the In-Season Tournament.