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INDIANAPOLIS – As Victor Oladipo is struggling to find a scoring rhythm in his return to game action, it’s now come in a trio of shaky performances from the Pacers (31-19).

Monday brought a second straight home defeat for Indiana, with the Pacers getting smoked from behind the arc and in defending the glass.

Behind 18 three pointers and 12 offensive rebounds, the Dallas Mavericks (31-19) came into Bankers Life Fieldhouse and beat the Pacers, 112-103, despite not having star Luka Doncic.

“Too many times we didn’t talk on the switch,” Nate McMillan said after the Pacers lost consecutive games at home for the first time all season. “The execution was not good.”

Indiana had issues all night long in defending the perimeter, and there was no answer for unicorn big man Kristaps Porzingis. The 7-4 center had 38 points and 12 rebounds as the Pacers were routinely lost in defending the pick and roll.

A near triple-double from Domantas Sabonis (26 points, 12 rebounds and 9 assists) didn’t save Indiana.

The Pacers allowed at least 25 points in every quarter and couldn’t survive a shootout in their own building.

Oladipo was 4-of-17 from the floor and 1-of-10 from behind the arc.

“This is his October,” McMillan said afterwards of Oladipo’s early struggles from the floor. “He’s trying to play himself into a rhythm. He had several open looks and he’s not going to get into a rhythm unless he shoots it and gets his confidence out there. The only way to get that is to play. I don’t want guys passive. If you have a good look, you take that look.”

Malcolm Brogdon wasn’t much better on Monday, going 6-of-17 and 2-of-7 from long distance.

It was a 7-of-34 night from three-point range for Indiana. Committing just 4 turnovers and dominating points in the paint were the only things keeping the Pacers in this one.

T.J. Warren (concussion) sat out Monday’s contest, his first missed game of the season.

 

Three Things Learned

-Scoring Struggles Continue For Oladipo: Nate McMillan made it clear before Monday’s tip that the Pacers did not think about changing the 24-minute/off the bench plan for Oladipo even with T.J. Warren out. The plan for Oladipo will remain for the next 5 games until the All-Star break. “We are not changing that,” McMillan said. “It’s not about just this season with Victor. It’s about the future with him, as well.” In the present, Oladipo continues to struggle mightily shooting the basketball in his his three games back. He was 4-of-17 on Monday, while going 1-of-10 from behind the arc. He continues to get some great looks and there appears to be nothing hindering him physically/athletically. But he is shooting just 20.5 percent from the floor (8-of-39) and 14 percent from three (3-of-21). The three-point percentage obviously sticks out, but Oladipo is also struggling to finish at the rim and find consistency in his mid-range game. And the number of shots he’s taken, given his 24-minute restriction is at a really high mark.

-T.J. Warren Misses His First Game Of Season: Monday was the first missed game of the season for T.J. Warren. Nate McMillan said it’s possible Warren won’t travel on the team’s one-game road trip to play Toronto on Wednesday. Warren wasn’t at the arena to watch Monday’s game against Dallas. For Warren, his durability this season shouldn’t be taken for granted. He has never played more than 66 games in a season, missing 149 games over his 5 NBA seasons. Aaron Holiday got the start for Warren, despite being benched and not playing in Victor Oladipo’s first two games back. Clearly, Nate McMillan didn’t want to disrupt his bench unit (which was productive on Monday). The younger Holiday was 3-of-9 for 7 points with 4 assists in 24 minutes, as a starter playing off the ball. With Warren missing Monday, Justin Holiday and Doug McDermott are the only Pacers to have played in all 50 games this season.

-Star Potential Missing: We know the Pacers were without Victor Oladipo for 47 games this season. But there’s also been an abundance of stars that haven’t played against the Pacers either. That has made things really hard to project when looking at this team in the playoffs. Whether it was Luka Doncic on Monday or absences from Anthony Davis, Ja Morant, Kawhi Leonard, Karl Anthony-Towns, Joel Embiid, Pascal Siakam or Kyrie Irving, you won’t find really any full-strength matchups the Pacers have had this season against playoff caliber teams. With teams fighting for homecourt down the stretch, maybe we will finally start seeing them, and that will give us a better indicator of what the Pacers can do in the playoffs. Selfishly, the healthy star-studded games have lacked some entertainment value when looking at the Pacers schedule this season.

 

Pacers Upcoming Schedule

-at Raptors 2/5 (Wednesday)

-Raptors 2/7 (Friday)

-Pelicans 2/8 (Saturday)

-Nets 2/10 (Monday)

-Bucks 2/12 (Wednesday)