Following their exciting win against Cleveland, the Indiana Pacers wrapped up their 2018 preseason the exact opposite kind of way, getting blown out by the Chicago Bulls. The Pacers shot just 25% in the first quarter, improving slightly heading into the half, but by that point, it was obvious things weren’t going to go the Pacers way for the night.
Nate McMillan treated tonight’s game like a regular season one in terms of rotations but wasn’t given the showing he was hope to get. Shots were short, movement was stagnant, passes weren’t sharp, and the defense was constantly a step slow against an energized Chicago offense that shot the ball well.
Nothing spoke more to Indiana’s lack of energy than being outscored much of the game in fast break points and allowing 18 turnovers to become 29 points for the Bulls. The Pacers also only forced 14 turnovers on Chicago, including just six steals, a number Indiana only reached 21 times last season.
To be fair, Indiana did play their entire preseason schedule on the road, wrapping up against Chicago on eight-day, four-game road trip. That may make this a good excuse, but could also be a case of foreshadowing as the Pacers will face four four-game road trips this season, though only one will reach eight days.
Not surprisingly, the best showing of the night for the Pacers starters came from Thaddeus Young, making his preseason debut and undoubtedly looking the most refreshed. Young scoring 16 on 8-12 shooting with 10 rebounds, five coming on the offensive end, leading to seven much needed points for the Pacers.
Domantas Sabonis reached double figures with 16, shooting 8-12 himself, a number that could have been better had he and the Pacers as a whole not struggled around the rim. Indiana went just 3-15 in the paint in the first quarter, which revives an all-too familiar trend from a season ago when the Pacers had nights when they simply couldn’t buy a bucket inside.
Victor Oladipo no doubt sets the trend for the Pacers and tonight the isolation play worked against him and the team as a whole. Oladipo shot just 4-15, three of those makes coming from the three point range. Outside of Young, no one else in the starting lineup came close to serviceable shooting the ball, with Bojan Bogdanovic, Darren Collison, and Myles Turner combining for 7-22 shooting.
Off the bench, Tyreke Evans was one of the best at creating turnovers, forcing two of Indiana’s steals, but had zero assists on a night when the Pacers had 19 as a team. Doug McDermott also failed to make much of an impact in the final preseason game, scoring two on 1-3 shooting.
Beyond the bad night, the overall preseason performances from guys like Turner, Bogdanovic, and McDermott were all underwhelming. Turner finished with just four points and three rebounds tonight, both far and away his worst showing, though in averaging 7.7 points and 5.7 rebounds, there wasn’t much in the way of a “wow” performance from Turner outside of his defensive performance against Cleveland.
Bogdanovic as well never had much of a breakout, also averaging 7.7 points and finishing 5-14 from three point range, though that jumps to 5-9 removing his o-fer against the Cavs. With McDermott, it’s hard to know right now where he’ll fit in with the second unit. For a guy the Pacers brought in to shoot, he averaged just three three attempts per game, though he did shoot just 25% in the four exhibition games.
On a bright note, the Pacers had to wait until the end of the third quarter to find any real highlights, getting nearly all of them from Aaron Holiday. The rookie stepped in, giving the Pacers life, and pulling a lopsided game as close as 10 with four minutes to go. Holiday helped give the Pacers some much needed passing, dishing three to go with a double figure night of 15 points, all while committing no turnovers.
With this forgettable loss, the forgettable portion of the season wraps up for the Pacers. It may not have been to the liking of the coaching staff, but this will give them plenty of coaching moments leading up to Indiana’s regular season opener next Wednesday, hosting the Memphis Grizzlies.