Through the first four games this season, the Indiana Pacers find themselves at .500 with a 2-2 record. While they still have 78 more games to play in the regular season, some have already begun to hit the panic button in Indianapolis — and rightfully so, as the Pacers haven’t looked that much fierce yet this season as they had been predicted by many analysts and experts to be a top team in the Eastern Conference.
Over the summer, team president Larry Bird made a three-team trade with the Atlanta Hawks and Utah Jazz that would allow the Pacers to ship longtime guard George Hill to the Utah Jazz, with the Pacers getting Jeff Teague out of the deal from the Hawks. The Pacers looked like clear winners of the trade, and it had also looked like franchise forward Paul George would have an aggressive and versatile point guard to play alongside for the first time in his career.
Again, it is too early to entirely push the panic button just yet, but Teague has not necessarily looked up to par through the first four games this year. So far with the Pacers, he has shot 11-of-50 from the field, 1-for-15 on his three-pointers and has had 11 turnovers. His highest-scoring game thus far came during the team’s first game of the season against the Dallas Mavericks in which he recorded 20 points. On the bright side of things, there is a good chance that Teague just needs time to gel and build chemistry with his new team — something that is more probable to happen than not.
The Pacers team as a whole, however, has struggled as well to start the season, and a bulk of the struggles happen to be on the defensive side of the ball. They currently rank 27th in the league in total defense, allowing 112.5 points per-game — the effect of replacing your team’s head coaching position with Nate McMillan rather than the defensively-minded Frank Vogel.
Take this past Tuesday’s win against the Los Angeles Lakers as a perfect example of how bad the Pacers’ defense has been so far. They were up by double digits during the first half, only to squander that lead and have the Lakers push them all the way to the final moments of the game. Thankfully to the heroics of Paul George and his 30-point night were the Pacers able to fend off the Lakers and reclaim the victory.
As stated earlier, there are 78 more games to be played and it is just too early to make any postseason and/or regular season predictions just yet. If Indiana keeps this trend going for the latter part of the season, then there would be a justifiable reason to panic. But for now, it may take some time for the current roster to build some chemistry to really get things going.
The Pacers travel to Wisconsin to take on the Milwaukee Bucks Thursday night at 8 p.m. ET.