It’s been a pretty disgusting season thus far if you are a Pacers fan, and last year’s miracle run to the second round appears to have been a fluke.
Granted, it’s probably still too early to write off this team, but the signs have rarely been worse. On Tuesday, they scored just 72 points in a loss against the Raptors, and this was after managing to hold the Raptors to just 5 points in the 4th quarter. Today, the lost by 14 to the Bucks, and this was after being down by 29 points after the 3rd quarter.
There are too many problems to know where to begin. Frank Vogel is known as a coach who preaches “smashmouth basketball”, but now his team is just being smashed in the mouth. The motivational tactics that worked so well last season don’t appear to be working anymore, and one has to wonder if Vogel is on the hotseat after this horrendous 3-6 start. And it’s not just the record either — it’s the way this Pacers team has been playing. Yes, they don’t have Danny Granger, but it’s no excuse for being the second worst team in the league in terms of offensive efficiency. The offense has been practically non-existent in the last few games, and the sets and plays seem so simple that even an amateur can pick them apart.
On the players’ side, the lone bright spots have been Lance Stephenson’s emergence and the resurgent play of Tyler Hansbrough, but these two guys are supposed to be fringe role players.
The big money man, Roy Hibbert, has been absolutely atrocious, and Portland must be thanking their lucky stars that the Pacers matched their offer. George Hill has tried to take on a scoring role, but maybe he is still hampered by injuries — or maybe he’s just not that good. Paul George is developing but his offense hasn’t improved as much as anticipated.
Out of the three new guys, only Gerald Green has been occasionally good, while DJ Augustin and Ian Mahinmi have been disappointments.
It’s not going to get much easier either. The Pacers next play the Mavs on Friday, and I’m sure Darren Collison and Dahntay Jones will be desperate to show their old team what they’re missing. After that they play the currently undefeated Knicks, before getting a much better chance at earning a win against the Wizards, though at this point nothing is certain.
The Pacers need to regroup, fix their broken offense and get their confidence back. Simple as that.