The Indiana Pacers wrapped up preseason play with a victory over Israeli club Maccabi Haifa, closing strong after sleepwalking through large portions of the game. Indiana outscored Maccabi Haifa 25-17 in the fourth quarter, but had to wake up after Maccabi Haifa had cut the lead to three halfway through the third.
After making a positive impression through the first three games of the preseason, tonight’s effort against Maccabi Haifa was a lackluster way to end the exhibition season with their least-focused effort. The Pacers were sloppy for much of the night, committing 23 turnovers, including five from Victor Oladipo, who otherwise had his best showing of the preseason, scoring 18 with four three pointers and four assists.
Oladipo was not only shooting well at 5-8, but was lightning quick with the ball, pushing the tempo on rebounds. It didn’t translate all too well for the Pacers at times, with the sloppiness resulting in easy misses or turnovers. Darren Collison also had his best game, displaying his savviness for a 15-point night on 6-7 shooting.
The style of play hurt Myles Turner the most, with three first half fouls limiting his effectiveness on the night, finishing with 12, but shooting just 2-6, committing five turnovers of his own. Thaddeus Young finished with a 11 point, 10 rebound double double, but was just 5-14 from the floor.
Perhaps the best player for Indiana tonight was Domantas Sabonis. Sabonis scored 12 and pulled in 13 rebounds for a double double of his own. Sabonis has shown a lot of good things in the preseason and how that translates into the regular season will go a long way in helping out Indiana’s bench in the regular season.
While Sabonis’s play has been a positive, the play of Indiana’s veteran acquisitions has been less so, with Bojan Bogdanovic continuing to struggle from three, shooting just 1-6. Bogdanovic has made plays elsewhere, but while Oladipo shot well tonight, the team was 5-17 from three outside of his efforts. Three point shooting is far from a given with this team and any positives require a regular season boost from Bogdanovic.
Cory Joseph also wrapped up a poor preseason with a three point (all on free throws) and five assist night. If Bogdanovic is brought in to alleviate potential three point struggles, Joseph is the keystone of the bench and making that work has shown that it will take some work. Of course, any major concerns with preseason performances is overblown, but the Pacers will be in need of what they didn’t get from them in the preseason.
As for the preseason, the league’s changes to the preseason also made for a much better fan experience overall. Game flows were better and getting an extra week of the regular season will be far more enjoyable than plodding through more exhibition showcases. The new-look Pacers made a positive impression with a quicker pace and higher energy and will look to transition that into the regular season when they tip off against the Brooklyn Nets next Wednesday the 18th.