Pacers loss shows one big concern as we head toward the playoffs

The Indiana Pacers lost again to the Bulls on Wednesday night. That game showed something that is extremely concerning for the Pacers this close to the playoffs.

Mar 27, 2024; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Indiana Pacers forward Obi Toppin (1) forward Jalen Smith (25)
Mar 27, 2024; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Indiana Pacers forward Obi Toppin (1) forward Jalen Smith (25) / David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

The Indiana Pacers lost again to a bad team on Wednesday. They fell to the Bulls for the third time this season, this time by a score of 125-99. It's the first time this season Indiana has been held under 100 points. This is concerning for a number of reasons.

Indiana is still fighting to keep that 6-seed. They have a one-game lead for it right now, but more losses like the one on Wednesday will soon push them out of that spot. Allowing 125 points is obviously not ideal, but it wasn't the biggest issue the Pacers had.

The biggest issue they had was on the offensive end. They couldn't score against the Bulls' zone. Indiana shot just 40% from the field and 31% from three. What's more concerning is that they shot 42 threes, which seven more than they take on average per game.

The Indiana Pacers must figure out how to score against a zone

Taking that many threes is a function of not being able to penetrate and get into the paint. The Pacers lead the league in points in the paint, scoring more than 57 points per game. Against the Bulls, they had just 38. That's the fewest they've had since a loss against Portland in January.

Pascal Siakam was clearly frustrated at the lack of being able to post up and do his normal thing. The Bulls would quickly double him and then he'd kick it out to someone who would miss an open three. If Indiana isn't going to shoot well enough from outside to pull teams out of a zone, then they have to pass the ball quicker to open up driving lanes.

The ball simply didn't move fast enough in Chicago. Tyrese Haliburton seemed unsure of what to do. Their offense seemed to affect their defense too because the Bulls shot 50% from the field. That made it harder to run in transition and get easy points at the rim.

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This is something the Pacers must get figured out before the playoffs start. If they can't, teams are just going to wall up on them and make it a rock fight. That's not the type of game they can win often.