Scoring 108.4 points per 100 possessions, the Pacers currently boast the third most efficient offense in the league. However, once the clock has struck 36 minutes over the last three games, they’ve transformed back into a pumpkin, only managing to muster a measly 78.8 points per 100 possessions.
In fact, since their first of three blown leads against the Sixers last Friday, Indiana has been outscored by a mammoth 42.5 points per 100 possessions during the game’s final twelve minutes, a mark which categorizes them as the worst fourth quarter team in the league over that span of games.
They slowed down
Over the last three games, the Pacers have been among the five fastest teams in the league coming out of the gates in the first quarter, but they’ve gotten progressively slower with each passing frame.
This suggests a possible fatigue factor which has resulted in fewer points scored off turnovers as well as more shots which have barely grazed the rim.
They had poor time management
Going by shot clock use, the Pacers are waiting longer to pull the trigger more frequently in the last three fourth quarters than they have overall this season.
Within those parameters, only the Heat, Trailblazers, and Celtics are attempting more shots within the 7-4 second range than the Pacers. More telling is that Indiana is only shooting 33 percent when the clock is winding down.
This, in part, is because the looks the Pacers are generating late are less the result of working the offense as they are the product of stagnancy.
Check out this missed 18-foot pull-up jump shot from Victor Oladipo, for instance. Without the benefit of ball screens or dribble hand-off action, the speedy guard unsuccessfully resorts to trying to pass the ball to himself off the backboard to reset the shot clock.
On the whole, though, the Pacers have been more content with settling for shots outside the paint in the final twelve minutes since their loss to Philly.
Granted, Myles Turner needs to set this ball screen before there is less than 10 seconds on the shot clock, but Oladipo probably should avoid pulling-up from mid-range with DeMarcus Cousins guarding him regardless.
The same is the case with this contested shot against Enes Kanter.
They were less equitable
With fewer possessions to go around, the size of Indiana’s offensive pie is already smaller in the fourth quarter, which makes the fact that it is also less equitable worse.
Notice, in particular, that Oladipo’s usage percentage has ballooned to 43.3 percent over the last three fourth quarters whereas that of Sabonis and Turner have both fallen below 20 percent.
As NBA.com’s John Schuhmann pointed out in his weekly power rankings on Monday, the pair of 22-and-under centers only got one shot between them over the final twelve minutes against the Knicks as the Pacers blew a 19-point lead. This, despite the fact that they had combined to score 32 points on 16 field goals prior to that point.
That can’t happen.
With Indiana continuing to give up more points in the paint per 100 possessions than any team in the league, the team’s refreshingly more free-flowing and egalitarian offense can’t afford to take quarters off.