3 things that left the pacers behind this season

Indiana pacers Malcolm Brogdon dribbles the ball while guarding by John Concher # 46 of the Memphis Grizzlies in the fourth quarter at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on March 15, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indianapolis # 7.
(Photo by Dylan Buell / Getty Images)

It wasn’t surprising that the Indiana pacers finished the 2021-22 NBA season 25-57 with a win-lose mark – their worst since the 1984-85 NBA campaign when they won just 22 games.

After that, Clarke Kellogg and Steve Stepanovich donated blue and gold to the pacers.

Yes, pacers have not been accustomed to hitting rock bottom for the last 25 years or so.

Hopefully, Indy can make some serious progress in 2022-23.

There were a number of things that kept Indiana stuck this season.

Let’s take a closer look at these factors and see if the pacers can get ahead of them.

3. Lots of injuries

With the 2021-22 NBA season coming to an end, the pacers looked like another NBA G-League team.

They have played without TJ Warren, TJ McConnell, Malcolm Brogdon, Miles Turner and Chris Duarte.

Four of them – Warren, Brogdon, Turner and Duarte – can start when they are well.

With these players sitting outside, pacer head coach Rick Carlyle can only shuffle limited card decks – a young and inexperienced nucleus that includes Terry Taylor, Dwayne Washington, Jr., Jalen Smith, Isaiah Jackson and Oshai Brisett.

The results were predictable – the Indy Eastern Conference was at the bottom of the ladder.

Brogdon, in particular, has always been prone to injury since entering the league in 2016.

He never finished an 82-game NBA season.

It’s time for the pacers to move on from Brogdon and see Tyres Halliburton emerge as one of the cornerstones of the franchise.

2. Playing brutal defense

With Turner sitting out the home stretch of the 2021-22 NBA campaign, Indiana Defense had a lame duck.

In addition to Turner, Indiana’s best defenders were Lance Stephenson and Brisette.

Others did not work hard.

Goga Betadze has not helped in any way – he has been playing matador defense for the pacers since he joined the pro ranks three years ago.

As a unit, the pacers were one of the league’s laughing stock in 2021-22.

They are ranked 30th in authorized points (114.9 ppg), 30% in opponent’s field-goal percentage (48.3%), and 30th in opponent’s three-point percentage (37.2%).

Looks like the pacers were one of the most feared teams in the defense at the time – in the days of Paul George, George Hill, Roy Hibbert, David West and Stephenson – many years ago.

Apparently, Kevin Pritchard, the pacer president of basketball operations, needs to get a defensive stopper through the draft and free agency.

Otherwise, hopefully the teams will shine against Indy next season.

1. Losing close game to inferior opponents

There is nothing more painful than losing a close game to an inferior opponent.

This is exactly what the pacers did in 2021-22.

Consider the following scores:

  • October 23: Washington (35-47) 135, Indiana 134 OT
  • November 6: Portland (27-55) 110, Indiana 106
  • February 3: Orlando (22-60) 119, Indiana 118
  • Feb. 26: Oklahoma City (24-58) 129, Indiana 125 OT
  • March 5: Detroit (23-59) 111, Indiana 106
  • March 24: Sacramento (30-52) 110, Indiana 109
  • April 4: Detroit (23-59) 121, Indiana 117

If the pacers want to improve in 2022-23, they should beat the inferior teams.

The constant defeats of the WebbGone squad like the Detroit Pistons in a month’s time do not help at all.

The pacers have not been so bad in three decades.

However, there is hope – if they can stay healthy, play well defensive and win close ball games against inferior opponents, they can make serious progress in the 2022-23 NBA campaign.

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