The Pacers made moves at the NBA Trade Deadline but none of those moves seemed to improve the team at all. In fact, it seems to have made them worse. This is not relating to the Pascal Siakam trade at all, this is the Buddy Hield trade and the addition of Doug McDermott.
They got throttled by the Warriors just hours after the deadline took place, took care of business against an OG Anunoby-less Knicks team and then looked abysmal against one of the worst teams in the league, the Charlotte Hornets.
Tyrese Haliburton hasn’t been himself since his injury, Bennedict Mathurin seems to be banged up and inconsistent and the defensive effort has gotten worse than what it was before. McDermott hasn’t done much in the ways of making an impact since his arrival. He’s yet to make a single basket and has one assist in 15 minutes of game time in two games.
The bigger picture issue is the Pacers’ season-long inability to play above their competition. Sure, they can look good against the likes of the Suns and the Sixers but then we’ll see efforts like Monday night where they lose to an 11-win Hornets squad. Or this Wizards. Or the Pistons. This has been a season-long issue. Every team loses a game or two they shouldn’t but the Pacers have been the leaders in the clubhouse when it comes to losing games they shouldn’t.
And it’s going to cost them if it hasn’t already.
The Pacers are currently in the play-in game if the playoffs started today. Something we thought was well below their expectations heading into the season. At worst, maybe a 6-seed? But not needing to play in the play-in games just to make the playoffs. That was never a thought. But here we are. The Pacers have one more game before the All-Star break, playing Siakam’s former squad, the Raptors, on Wednesday night.
Maybe the Pacers need a rest. A week off for the All-Star break could heal what ails them. My concern is that this is who they are. They’ve showed us multiple times this season that they will play down to their competition whenever the mood strikes. They are starting to have way too many of these performances, combined with the complete lack of defense, to not make any serious noise when it comes to the playoffs. If they even make it.
Here’s hoping some R&R during the All-Star break will get them back on track. But I’m very concerned.
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