INDIANAPOLIS – Crushing.
In arguably their most important game of the season to this point, the Pacers (31-36) could not finish a double-digit lead in the final quarter.
Russell Westbrook hit two free throws with a second remaining in overtime to give the Wizards the 133-132 road win, which marked a season sweep for Washington (32-36).
Bradley Beal led all scorers with 50 points (19-of-31 shooting), but he had to leave in OT with a hamstring injury. That’s when Westbrook (33 points) took over with big plays on both ends of the floor.
Not only did the Pacers see their strong cushion in the 4th quarter evaporate, they were in position to win again in overtime.
But Caris LeVert, who led Indiana with 35 points, committed a foul in closing out on a double team for Westbrook, which sent the former MVP to the foul line for the eventual game-winning free throws. Westbrook then blocked LeVert’s final shot attempt at the buzzer.
Domantas Sabonis scored 30 points, handed out 13 assists and grabbed 13 rebounds for Indiana.
Both teams had very similar shooting numbers, but the Wizards did outrebound Indiana by 11.
Indiana continues to play without Myles Turner (toe) and Malcolm Brogdon (hamstring).
It’s looking like these two teams will meet up in the play-in part of the season, which will take place next week.
The Pacers have 5 games remaining in the regular season.
Three Things Learned
1. Another Late Heartbreak: Saturday’s crushing loss was more reminiscent of some of the games we saw from Indiana in March and April. Despite holding a double-digit lead in the 4th quarter, the Pacers’ lead eventually evaporated with the Wizards pulling this out in overtime. It continues to be the theme of the season for Indiana. While Caris LeVert again looks like a guy capable of making plays in the clutch, it’s still not enough for the Pacers to finish off these games. Of course, come playoff time, that’s how those games often unfold. Add that to another reason why the Pacers’ stay in the postseason isn’t expected to be long.
2. Swept By The Wizards: In losing both meetings with Washington this past week, the Pacers went 0-3 against the Wizards this season. And now it looks like the Pacers and Wizards could be playing against each other in the play-in game, with the loser of that matchup done for the season. Defending Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal is an extreme challenge for any NBA team. The Pacers have had absolutely zero answer in that. Such a plan is unlikely to develop in the next week, but the prayer of a Myles Turner return is probably the only thing that could salvage some resistance. That appears to be unlikely though with Turner still yet to get back to practice.
3. Final Week Here: The final week of the regular season is here for the Pacers. It’s looking like Indiana will make a play-in game, but will then need to win two games to actually be in the playoffs. It will be interesting to see if opponents in Philadelphia and Milwaukee decide to rest anyone in their games against Indiana. What is again hurting the Pacers is the fact that the 3 teams immediately around them (Hornets, Wizards and Bulls) all won their respective season series over Indiana. As long as the Pacers can win 2 of their final 5 games, they should clinch a spot in the play-in game, likely looking at another matchup with the Wizards.
Pacers Remaining Schedule
-@Cavaliers (Monday, 5/10 at 7:30 PM)
-76ers (Tuesday, 5/11 at 8:00 PM)
-Bucks (Thursday, 5/13 at 7:00 PM)
-Lakers (Saturday, 5/15, TBD)
-@Raptors (Sunday, 5/16, TBD)
Eastern Conference Playoff Picture
1. 76ers (47-21, .691)
2. Nets (44-24, .647)
3. Bucks (43-24, .642)
4. Knicks (37-30, .552)
5. Hawks (37-31, .544)
6. Heat (36-31, .537)
7. Celtics (35-32, .522)
8. Hornets (33-34, .493)
9. Wizards (32-36, .471)
10. Pacers (31-36, .463)
Outside Looking In
11. Bulls (28-39, .418)
12. Raptors (27-40, .403)
Top 20 College Athletes With The Highest NIL Valuations
Funniest College Football Player Names Of 2023
Colts Notebook: Shane Steichen Talks Release Of Shaquille Leonard
Colts Cut Shaquille Leonard
20 Last Place Punishments For Your 2023 Fantasy Football League
Why Release Shaq Leonard Now?
5 Things Learned: Colts Finally Close Out Home Win
Report: Jonathan Taylor Could Miss Time Due To Thumb Injury