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INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Pacers will have to flip the script at home if they are to avoid the play-in games for this year’s postseason.

Over the weekend, the Pacers (26-30) missed two chances for road wins, losing in Utah on Friday and then in Atlanta on Sunday.

What has defined the Pacers so much this season showed up again on Friday afternoon in playing the best team in the NBA.

Indiana actually built a 17-point lead in the second quarter against the Jazz, before laying an offensive egg in the second half. That result was a possible steal in Utah getting away in a 119-111 road loss.

The Pacers scored just 42 points in the second half with the Jazz seizing control, despite playing without star Donovan Mitchell, who left the game in the third quarter with an ankle injury. Mitchell had 22 points before exiting.

Indiana was up by 9 when Mitchell left, but their offense went flat the rest of the way.

Caris LeVert led Indiana with 24 points. Domantas Sabonis added 22 points and 15 rebounds.

Former Pacers Bojan Bogdanovic led the Jazz with 24 points. Rudy Gobert, the NBA’s best defensive player, had 13 points and 23 rebounds.

On Sunday, the Pacers got down 20 points early to the Hawks, before climbing all the way back to tie the score at 105 with 5 minutes. But Atlanta (31-26) finished the game on a 24-12 run.

Indiana had no answer for Trae Young (34 points and 11 assists).

The Pacers got down 30-10 in the first quarter and spent the next three quarters having to play catch up to a team above them in the standings.

Myles Turner returned to action and finished without a block for the first time in 65 games.

Malcolm Brogdon led the Pacers with 29 points.

Indiana and Atlanta are now tied 1-1 in the head-to-head series with one more game to go between the two this season.

The Pacers will now return home for three straight games at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. They’ll play 11 of their final 16 games at home.

 

Three Things Learned

1. Missed Opportunity In Atlanta: Yes, the Pacers had a golden opportunity on Friday in Utah, but the one Sunday stings even more given the Eastern Conference implications. After clawing back to tie the score at 105 with 5 minutes to play on Sunday, the Pacers were outscored 24-12 following an Atlanta timeout. It was yet another crippling close to a game. Indiana had absolutely zero answer for Trae Young in the pick and roll. Over the last few weeks, the Pacers have routinely been in position for a win that could turn things around. And they’ve been unable to make the key plays in finishing off those victories. Sunday stung big time, with the Hawks a few games up in the standings and the head-to-head series now tied at 1.

2. The Debate About Nate: Two things can be true: this has been a disappointing season for the Pacers, but that doesn’t mean Nate McMillan should have been retained. Even McMillan himself stated that if the Pacers didn’t win a first-round series last year, he should go. Not only did the Pacers not win that series, but they were swept and led for just 11 seconds in the four fourth quarters of that sweep. No one is rushing to build a statue of Nate Bjorkgren and that’s fine. But just because McMillan is having regular season success as the interim in Atlanta doesn’t mean the Pacers should have kept him. Again, as has always been stated, the Pacers need some personnel tweaks and a healthier makeup to fairly judge Bjorkgren moving forward.

3. Good For Oshae Brissett: While the Pacers chose not to make any move at the NBA trade deadline, they have added a new player to the rotation as of late. That’s Oshae Brissett, who is playing on his second 10-day contract in Indiana. The 22-year-old Brissett first caught Nate Bjorkgren’s attention in Toronto the last two seasons as he played on a two-way contract. Indiana chose Brissett in the 2021 G-League Draft and he made a strong impression down in the G-League bubble earlier this year. Brissett logged around 10 minutes per game in the first two on the road scoring 10 and 4 points. With Myles Turner returning on Sunday, the Pacers didn’t have Brissett or Goga Bitadze in the rotation (Doug McDermott missed another game due to his ankle ailment).

 

Pacers Upcoming Schedule

-Spurs (Monday, 4/19, at 8:00 PM)

-Thunder (Wednesday, 4/21, at 7:00 PM)

-Pistons (Saturday, 4/24, at 7:00 PM)

-@Magic (Sunday, 4/25, at 8:00 PM)

-Trailblazers (Tuesday, 4/27 at 7:00 PM)

 

Eastern Conference Playoff Picture

1. 76ers (39-17, .696)

2. Nets (38-18, .679)

3. Bucks (35-21, .625)

4. Hawks (31-26, .544)

5. Celtics (31-26, .544)

6. Knicks (31-27, .535)

Play-In Teams

7. Heat (28-28, .500)

8. Hornets (27-28, .491)

9. Pacers (26-30, .464)

10. Bulls (23-33, .411)

Outside Looking In

11. Wizards (23-33, .411)

12. Raptors (23-34, .404)