Preseason basketball is officially in the books. The Indiana Pacers may have fallen short tonight against the Cleveland Cavaliers, but at least it can’t hurt them in the standings. Cleveland, hitting their first five attempts, used the three point shot to set the tone early in the first quarter, leading the entire way after breaking a 13-13 tie halfway through the first.
Though the Pacers would eventually eclipse the Cavaliers in total three point makes, it wasn’t enough against to even really keep pace, as Cleveland would pour in some timely makes and Indiana would need an extra 12 attempts to finish on top in that category. The Pacers struggled early in connecting on their threes, only Myles Turner and Chris Duarte hit triples among the starting lineup, each hitting two.
On the bright side, it was Goga Bitadze that really piled it on from deep, hitting four of his seven attempts in his best game of the preseason, by miles. He finished with 18 points, six rebounds, and three blocks in 23 minutes of action, nearly running the entire second half.
Bitadze was effectively flanked by Isaiah Jackson, who also played well in his minutes, scoring 12 on 5-7 shooting (2-4 from three), with three boards, two steals, and a block (well...probably two). Jackson and Bitadze were an exciting pair tonight and really brought some life to a bench unit that had its share of struggles.
As well as Oshae Brissett and Brad Wanamaker have played at times, both had a much tougher time tonight. Brissett had just five points on 1-4 shooting and Wanamaker finished with more turnovers than assists (3-2). Duane Washington Jr. had shooting struggles as well, but did piece together a nice stretch in the second half as part of his eight points. He also had five assists to lead the bench.
The finality of the preseason opened up minutes for the entire preseason roster, with DeJon Jarreau playing best of that bunch, scoring seven on 3-6 shooting with three rebounds and three assists. Keifer Sykes meanwhile made three free throws, but blanked from the floor, going 0-6 with three assists. The starters played only the first half tonight with Turner and Domantas Sabonis each scoring 10. Torrey Craig played better tonight with the offense, attacking the basket early as part of his six points.
Duarte finished with eight, his worst overall showing of the preseason, but did have an opportunity to swing the game in Indiana’s favor late in the first half. After one of his threes helped cut the lead into single digits late in the first half, he had a good look at a second attempt, but his miss led to a Mitch Ballock three, a backbreaking six-point swing and Cleveland never looked back.
Injuries continued to pile up tonight with Jeremy Lamb missing tonight’s game with a wrist injury. Six players appeared on the injury report, one Rick Carlisle didn’t sit anyone for rest. Of those names, Malcolm Brogdon and Justin Holiday are trending positively for the season opener with Caris LeVert hopefully soon to follow. T.J. Warren, however, may be on the right track, though his return is still further out after an update earlier today from Carlisle.
Head coach Rick Carlisle provided an update on T.J. Warren:— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) October 15, 2021
"T.J. had a scan this week, and the news was positive...There's no determined timetable yet. We are still looking at weeks, not days, but his scan this week was positive."
The Pacers finish up 2-2 in exhibition play and will wipe the slate clean for the start of the regular season on Wednesday. It was be the first of two road openers, hitting the road to face the Charlotte Hornets. They’ll be facing a fairly stout schedule in their first seven games, making the matchup against Charlotte a key one right off the bat.