The Pacers dumped their fourth consecutive game in Dallas on Sunday night after giving up 26 points on 21 turnovers. While the Pacers gave themselves a chance to win down the stretch, a familiar old problem cropped up to make a big difference.
Speaking of familiar, this early March stretch is eerily similar to the past three seasons, with losses more frequent than wins. But the Pacers raised the expectations bar over the past three seasons in the playoffs, so while trying to finish this season as an elite team, this clunky stretch of play from the Pacers is magnified.
The Pacers want to fast-forward to the Eastern Conference series, but right now they aren't playing well enough to get out of the first round. The remaining hope is that the Pacers will continue following the familiar pattern of the past and get things together for the playoffs.
The Pacers haven't lost four in a row since this time on the schedule two years ago. The Pacers opened March losing six of nine games that year (2011-12) and then eventually went on to lose to the Heat in an epic playoff series that helped a young team grow up in a hurry.
Three years ago in the 2010-12 season, after Frank Vogel took over the team and eventually led them to the playoffs, the Pacers opened March going 4-8 with six consecutive losses at one point.
Of course, last year the Pacers the Pacers were 4-4 to start March with a fifth loss on the last day of February.
During each of these stretches, questions and diminished expectations emerged from fans and media, while the team tried to plow through the tough times. This year, though, the expectations remain high and concerns from the players are similar to those of the fans and media.
Everybody is searching for answers, and the effort in Dallas last night showed a team grinding and at time trying to do too much, which as the heavy turnover total showed, turned counterproductive.
The Pacers return home to a more favorable schedule for the next five games. So these nine days will give the Pacers some quality practice time and games they should win while also working out their March malaise issues.
I touched on this topic and a few other issues on The Phil Naessens Show. Check it out.
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