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INDIANAPOLIS – In the midst of their worst losing streak in three seasons, the Pacers continue to have an inability to finish.
Monday’s loss, a 5th straight at home, and 6th overall, was particularly excruciating.
Despite leading throughout the 4th quarter, and possessing the ball with a 4-point lead, and the clock nearing one minute to play, Indiana crumbled again down the stretch.
The Nets, playing without star Kyrie Irving, scored on their final three possessions, to shock the Pacers 106-105.
“We have to win those games,” a frustrated Nate McMillan said after the Pacers fell to 31-23 on the year. “It’s us again not finishing the game. We had this game.”
Yet another defeat for the Pacers overshadowed a triple-double by Domantas Sabonis and key bench contributions from T.J. McConnell and Doug McDermott.
Both Malcolm Brogdon and Victor Oladipo missed potential game-sealing shots in the final 70 seconds.
On the other end of the floor, Nets forward Joe Harris forced scored on a driving layup, with Myles Turner sitting on the bench, to cut the deficit to two points.
Following an Oladipo miss from behind the arc, the Pacers lost Harris on a defensive switch and his 3-pointer gave Brooklyn their first lead (104-103) of the final quarter.
Sabonis scored at the other end, but the Nets re-took the lead when Spencer Dinwiddie made a challenged jumper over Brogdon.
Down 1 with less than 4 seconds to go, Indiana saw Brooklyn wisely take a foul to give, which forced the Pacers to adjust their final attempt. Brogdon eventually got off a low percentage look that didn’t sniff the rim.
The loss sends Indiana into its final game before the All-Star break on a 1-6 skid since Oladipo’s return. They are on a 5-game home losing streak for the first time since 2008.
Three Things Learned
-Costly Final Minute: Rinse, repeat. When the Indiana bench (mainly Doug McDermott and T.J McConnell) sparked things at the end of Monday’s third quarter, it gave the Pacers some needed life heading into the 4th quarter nemesis as of late. Honestly, Indiana executed fairly well on the offensive end of the floor in the 4th, before crumbling at the end. Leading by 4 points with the ball and just a minute to play, the Pacers couldn’t close. It was the Nets scoring on three straight trips to end the game. At the other end, Malcolm Brogdon and Victor Oladipo both missed early shot clock chances to ice the game. And the Pacers were outcoached, with failed communication, leading to a 6tth straight loss. While Indiana tries to find new chemistry (see more below), they also must re-gain confidence in closing out games. This is now 6 straight losses (5 at home) with Indiana having realistic chances to win every one of these games in the final quarter.
-Starting Lineup, Finally: And on the 54th game of the season the Indiana Pacers finally had their starting lineup intact. The 5-man grouping of PG-Malcolm Brogdon, SG-Victor Oladipo, SF-T.J. Warren, PF-Domantas Sabonis, C-Myles Turner made their first start of the season against the Nets. This brings us into ‘phase three’ of the 2019-20 season for the Pacers, with Oladipo back starting and ramping his workload up. As that group starts to mesh together now for the final 25-ish games of the season, the bench will make some adjustments. That includes Jeremy Lamb moving to the bench, with the likes of T.J. McConnell, Justin Holiday and Doug McDermott all slotting into consistent roles. Holiday was the 6th man on Monday. Nate McMillan says Goga Bitadze will be used occasionally to spell Sabonis and Turner. It doesn’t sound like Aaron Holiday will have a nightly reserve role, which is what we saw when the Pacers were fully healthy immediately following the return of Oladipo. The Pacers were so healthy on Monday that Edmond Sumner was a healthy inactive.
-Team USA Honorees: In the midst of a 5-game losing streak, Monday morning did bring some good news for a trio of Pacers. Victor Oladipo, Myles Turner and Malcolm Brogdon are three of 44 guys chosen by USA Basketball as finalist for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball team. Those finalists will be chosen from to make the 12-man team that will travel to Tokyo for the 2020 Olympics starting in late July. With 3 finalists, the Pacers are 1 of 7 NBA teams that have at least three finalists. While individually speaking, this will be a tremendous opportunity for each guy, it’s also nice for the Pacers as they try to potentially recruit some higher-level players down the road.
Pacers Upcoming Schedule
-Bucks 2/12 (Wednesday)
-at Knicks 2/21 (Friday)
-at Raptors 2/23 (Monday
-Hornets 2/25 (Tuesday)