That high-speed, always-running engine that we’ve come to know as the Indiana Pacers offense has started to come to a halt and they might not be able to refuel. Early last week Indiana lost to Miami 114-106 even though the Heat were on the second night of a back-to-back and only used eight players.
The Pacers continued to look exhausted through the first quarter of their game against Clevel before turning it around over the next three quarters. Yes, they’ve now won three straight games, but there are some warning signs that the Pacers are running out of steam.
If you split Indiana’s first 44 games into three groups, you’ll see a steady decline in their pace.
Indiana Pacers Pace of Play
|101.89||8 out of 30|
|98.67||13 out of 30|
|95.55||29 out of 30|
Though some outside factors attributed to Indiana’s complete drop-off in pace over the last 14 games (i.e. Victor Oladipo’s injury), there are other stats that show Pacer players might be getting fatigued.
While Nate McMillan has done a decent job using his bench to limit all his starters to under 34 minutes per game, the way Indiana plays puts more strain on their players.
The NBA tracks everything now, including the total distance players travel per game. For example, Oladipo travels 2.54 miles per game, the 10th highest in the league.
But what makes Indiana’s offense unique is that they are one of only six teams where all five starters travel over two miles in distance per game. The Pacers are the only team in the league to have all their starters in the top 100 in distance traveled per game.
This means that although McMillan has limited his starters’ minutes he hasn’t limited the amount of energy that drains his players. There have been subtle repercussions to the Pacers slowing down, particularly for Bojan Bogdanovic.
In Bogdanovic’s first 22 games he averaged 15.2 points per game and 45 percent shooting on 3-point field goals. In his last 22 games, he’s dropped to 11.7 ppg and 30.9 percent shooting on 3-pt field goals.
There has also been a downward trend in Thaddeus Young who went from averaging 13.2 ppg in first 22 games to 10.4 over the last 22 games. Luckily the Pacers are a relatively young team - their roster averages out to 25.4 years old.
The combination of Myles Turner, Lance Stephenson, Domantas Sabonis and Oladipo has helped prevent the team from slacking too hard. However, Turner’s injured, putting further strain on the team.
Turner may not have the same offensive impact as Oladipo but he’s just as important on the defensive end. Indiana has to put even more strain on their team which could eventually have an impact down the road.
The Pacers seem fine for now but be warned that fatigue-related regression could be around the corner.