Pacers loss to Nets puts them back at square one

The Pacers are back at square one after Wednesday's loss to the Brooklyn Nets.

Brooklyn Nets v Indiana Pacers
Brooklyn Nets v Indiana Pacers / Dylan Buell/GettyImages
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The Pacers keep screwing themselves over, and Wednesday night's game against Brooklyn just drove them deeper into their hole.

After wins on Tuesday from both Miami and Philadelphia, the latter enjoying the services of Joel Embiid after an extended injury absence, the rest of Indiana's games quickly became must-win. With added pressure on them, the Pacers strolled into Wednesday's game against Brooklyn with a new sense of determination, ready to put away the team they blew out two times prior this season, including once just two days ago.

Unfortunately, we're talking about the Pacers trying to take care of business against a bad team, so that was wishful thinking at best and downright hopeless at worst. After a promising first quarter where they led 31-19, Indiana almost squandered their lead going into halftime, leading by just one point.

Brooklyn took the lead going into the fourth quarter, and it was in the final period that the Pacers broke the hearts of their fans once again. Despite a heroic late-game effort from Pascal Siakam to the tune of 15 points in the fourth quarter, a Nets miss bounced out of the Pacers' hands and into the hands of Mikal Bridges for a game-tying three-pointer after which Brooklyn took over and won 115-111.

In what seemed like a repeat of the greatest misses of the season, Indiana lost yet again to another inferior team, this time giving up a career-high night from Noah Clowney, who scored 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in just his 18th NBA game.

In addition to this, Nic Claxton added 14 points and 13 rebounds as, due to the absence of Myles Turner from a finger injury, Jalen Smith took over the starting center job and was not very productive, scoring just eight points on 4/11 shooting and ultimately playing poorly throughout. In addition to Smith, Tyrese Haliburton and Pascal Siakam had rather up-and-down games, as Haliburton had 24 points on 9/22 shooting, and Siakam had 26 points on 12/27 shooting.

The Indiana Pacers have failed to take care of business against bad teams

Long story short, the Pacers once again, lost to an inferior team and played down to their competition. This time, however, there were dire consequences. With this loss, Indiana is back in the play-in division, as they have dropped to the seventh seed, behind Miami, with whom they have a game against on Sunday.

Before that, Miami faces off against the Philadelphia 76ers in a game the Pacers will be watching very closely. Despite the 76ers being in the play-in race right with the Pacers, they are 1.5 games behind, while the Heat are tied with Indiana. Because of this, Pacers fans will be hoping for a 76ers win on Thursday.

As for Indiana, with five games left in the season and the race to stay out of the play-in still going strong, they have to put their working boots on. The next game is against Oklahoma City on Friday, and with Shai Gilgeous Alexander and Jalen Williams possibly being out, Indiana has to pull out a win.

Following that is the aforementioned Heat matchup on Sunday. Depending on how the game against Philly goes, the Heat will either be in front of the Pacers, or right behind them. Either way, that game can either put the Pacers in front for good or doom them to the play-in.

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All in all, Indiana cannot afford to lose any more games from now on. There may be room for one loss at most, but they have to enter attack mode starting Friday. With Miami's game on Sunday being the most important so far, it's crucial that Indiana gets some momentum going into that one and beats the Thunder on Friday. If not, things may get ugly.