How much time off is too much time off?
For the Indiana Pacers, three days off is apparently too much time off. That much is obvious after watching the Pacesr lose to the Philadelphia 76ers, 101-75 in what was truly an uninspired effort by the blue and gold.
Midway through the first quarter the Sixers, desperate for their first win of the season, went on a run to push their lead to double-digits, but just before the Sixers made their run, Austin Croshere made an astute observation which would end up telling the story of this game.
Cro mentioned that while the Pacers were hanging with the Sixers they were struggling to run their offense and get shots in the flow of the offense, while Philly was flowing at the other end getting exactly what they wanted, including several easy shots in the lane. Quickly the difference in offensive play started to show up on the scoreboard and the Sixers were off an running.
The Pacers defense wasn't great, but that's not exactly out of the ordinary with this squad. They had a few early turnovers to help jump-start the Sixers, but that wasn't the fatal flaw either. Offense, and in particular shooting, was the main issue. Simple as it may seem, making baskets is the most critical part of scoring points and the Pacers struggled all night to put the ball in the hole. They finished the night shooting 31.5% from the floor but hovered around the 30% mark all night, missing layups and put backs to go along with several stand-still jumpers off no ball or player movement.
Things got so bad in the second quarter that the Pacers had two open breakaways that came up empty followed later by a 3-on-1 breakaway that started with a pass to the Philly 1. Oops. The last two empty gimmies were quickly cashed in at the other end for 5 points by the Sixers. There's a quick 11-point swing that took all of about 15 total seconds of game time.
Philly had a collapse in them which showed when the Pacers made a third quarter run. After the Sixers had pushed the lead to 28 points, Josh McRoberts hit a pair of threes to highlight a little 8-0 run that offered a glimmer of hope for a big comeback.
Over the next few minutes, the Sixers noticeably tightened up and the Pacers continued chipping away at the lead, eventually knocking it down to a manageable 15 points. Only problem was, the Pacers had zero error for margin remaining and they missed too many shots when they had a chance to cut the lead even further.
In the end, the inability to make shots, even the most basic shots around the rim, was the deciding factor and a large part of that was the teams inability or unwillingness (or both) to run the offense like we've seen in the first three games. Even through the third quarter when they made their run, they only shot 30% when a respectable 45% may have forced the Sixers to feel their heavy legs and let another game slip away.
Instead, the Pacers slipped further behind and now have to live with this mess for a day before getting back on the court against Milwaukee on Friday night.
After the jump, a few thoughts and observation from the loss.
- This is not an unfamiliar game, seeing the Pacers roll out a stinker on the road when expectations are high, but it is still disappointing to see this early in the season with a healthy team that didn't seem to have this stink in them. But again, if you can't put the ball in the hole nothing else matters.
- Pacers half-court offense was stagnant all night. It remains a mystery how a team that relies so heavily on ball and player movement, and has success utilizing ball and player movement, can let any flow grind to a halt. It starts with holding the ball too long and worsens from there.
- An early play through Roy Hibbert resulted in an easy bucket for Darren Collison, but the Pacers also struggle getting the ball to Hibbert in the post when they aren't moving. Once Hibbert has the ball, I don't mind him holding it and showing some patience, but he also need to make a decisive move or pass when the play is there to be made.
- Jim O'Brien went through all 11 players in uniform in the first half as he desperately looked for a spark or some combination of players that could get something done against the Sixers.
- All 11 players scored for the Pacers but only two in double figures, and barely at that. Darren Collison led the team in scoring with 11 while Josh McRoberts pitched in 10.
- Danny Granger's scoring average took a hit with his 7-point performance on 2-14 shooting from the floor.
- At the half, Pacer starters combined for 15 points (Granger 2, McRoberts 2, Hibbert 2, Dunleavy 3, Collison 6).
- I have no idea how he managed this, but Hibbert emerged from that slop with a +/- of +2.
- Elton Brand had his way in the paint, scoring 25 points with 12 rebounds. Five of those rebounds were on the offensive glass and I'd be willing to bet he cashed all five of them in with his soft touch around the rim. He definitely had some will-killing plays to help keep the Pacers at bay in the third quarter.
- There was a little defense to report in the third quarter. T.J. Ford in particular was all over Lou Williams causing plenty of problems. Of course, on this night, two possible turnovers were missed by the refs.
- Positive thoughts are with Sixers' coach Doug Collins who had to leave the geam early after suffering symptoms of vertigo.