INDIANAPOLIS – Get. To. The. All-Star. Break.
The Pacers (15-18) lost their 4th straight game on Monday night and have now won just 4 of their past 15 games.
Monday’s beatdown was courtesy of the best team in the NBA as the 76ers (23-12) dominated Indiana in a 130-114 road loss for the Pacers.
Indiana again got off to a decent start, but the 76ers wiggled out of an early hole once Joel Embiid (24 points and 13 rebounds in three quarters of action) facilitated his way out of the Pacers double teams.
Philadelphia’s bench also thoroughly outplayed Indiana’s reserves in the first half to build a 17-point halftime lead.
One more big Philly run in the third quarter—following a missed layup by Myles Turner, which could have cut the lead to 9 points—ended this one.
Malcolm Brogdon returned to action after his one-game absence, leading the Pacers with 20 points.
While the Pacers struggled mightily from behind the arc on Monday, it was their defense that really contributed to this blowout.
The Pacers gave up more than 100 points in three quarters of action, which is why the 76ers did not have to put their starters back in for the final quarter.
Pacers forward Doug McDermott lost part of a tooth in the third quarter and did not return.
The Pacers will wrap up their 4-game road trip on Wednesday night in Cleveland.
Three Things Learned
1. Defending Joel Embiid: It was the matchup we didn’t get earlier this season (with Joel Embiid missing the first meeting between these two teams). And we really didn’t get much of it on Monday night, even though both Embiid and Myles Turner were playing on Monday. Instead of seeing how Turner could handle Embiid 1-on-1, the Pacers committed early on to running a second defender at the best big man in the NBA right on the catch. It took about 2 of those doubles before Embiid became very comfortable attacking as a facilitator. Indiana was left scrambling and had no answer. If Turner really believes he is the best defender in the league, this is a 1-onj-1 matchup the Pacers should have at least gone to early, because their scrambling was a lost cause. Embiid still finished Monday with 24 points and 13 rebounds in three quarters of work.
2. Should Edmond Sumner Play More? While Monday night was certainly a game to forget for the bench, there were some nice moments from Edmond Sumner. Yet to have much of a consistent rotational spot this season, Sumner has carved out a reserve role in each of the last three games, offering some sort of bright spot amidst this terrible stretch. When Sumner is on the floor you see athleticism and burst you won’t find anywhere else on the roster. Sure, Sumner is far from polished as a ball handler and shooter, but he does offer something unique. At 25, Sumner is approaching a bit of a crossroads in his career. It would be nice to see more of Sumner and see if he can round out the potential that has always been there. The issue though is it’s even harder to see Sumner get those minutes when you have Caris LeVert’s return coming. Squeezing Sumner’s minutes amongst LeVert, Malcolm Brogdon, Jeremy Lamb, Justin Holiday, Aaron Holiday and T.J. McConnell doesn’t seem likely.
3. Backcourt Health: One thing we tried to harp on before the start of this Pacers season was the looming health question. Obviously, no one could have predicted what has happened with Caris LeVert, but there were injury history concerns with T.J. Warren, Jeremy Lamb and Malcolm Brogdon. Now, Lamb (since returning) and Brogdon have been healthy, but recent injuries have popped for them. This is something we need to keep an eye on down the stretch as LeVert and Warren (hopefully) return. Given the health of the Pacers this season and Nate Bjorkgren’s openness to playing so many guys/lineups, it’s virtually impossible to predict a rotation for the Pacers right now.
Pacers Upcoming Schedule
-@Cavaliers (Wednesday, 3-3, at 7:00 PM)
-Nuggets (Thursday, 3-4, at 8:00 PM)