Pacers end road trip with loss to Suns, return to Fieldhouse to face Nuggets
The Pacers are learning on the fly, incorporating Pascal Siakam into the lineup while dealing with injuries and a rough stretch of the schedule.
The Pacers finished their six-game road trip with a 117-110 loss to the Suns on Sunday night.
Tyrese Haliburton sat out the loss, as the team continues to manage his hamstring recovery, but Rick Carlisle insisted Hali’s absence was not a setback. So, we should expect to see him play against the Nuggets on Tuesday at the Fieldhouse after three full days off.
Let’s hope so.
The Pacers are woefully out of sync while absorbing the impact of a rotation altering trade and injuries that jumbled the playing rotation throughout the roadie. The bench was incredible in Sacramento, but had nothing in the tank the next night in Portland. The starters were solid in Portland, but the rough reserve minutes left the Pacers with a rough loss in Pascal Siakam’s debut. Then in Phoenix, Haliburton was out, some of the starters were good, several bench players were better and erased and early deficit and then another group made a push for the W in the fourth quarter before ultimately coming up short. Of course, Kevin Durant dumped 40 on the Pacers and their big three scored 91 points overall. Not something the Hali-less Pacers could match despite their best effort to steal the dub.
All the while, Rick Carlisle and staff have been exploring their options with Siakam in the mix. The newest Pacers can play the three, the four and the five and when matched up with the right combinations, the team can thrive. The biggest revelation in Phoenix was how well rookie, Jarace Walker played at the three which offers the Pacers a chance to be both big, long and athletic with he and Siakam sharing well over 14 feet of wingspan between them. But that defensive end is where Walker has to pay particular attention. He grabbed 9 rebounds and showed off his offensive ability, but once he avoids the defensive lapses, then the rook will be a big help.
As exciting as that sounds, Walker will continue to play spot minutes depending on the matchup when Haliburton and Isaiah Jackson are back in the mix. Regardless, half way through the season, there are roles and minutes still up for grabs after the trade for Siakam. Plus, there may be another deal or two by the trade deadline.
Andrew Nembhard played heavy minutes in Phoenix after TJ McConnell was unable to slow down Devin Booker or Bradley Beal. Nembhard played some impressive defense against Booker’s efforts to bully his way to the bucket. Nembhard wasn’t having it and played a big role in Bookers inefficient scoring night, requiring 24 shots to score 26. But sticking with the out of sync theme, Nembhard continues to struggle at the offensive end of the floor. He needed 9 shots to score 9 points and appears to be stiff and moving cautiously when trying to shoot. It makes MY back twinge when I see him try to get off one of his patented midrange shots.
So, yeah. With all of these moving parts, patience will be required to enjoy the fruits of the Pacers recent deal for Siakam. While the loss to the Blazers remains inexcusable, the discombobulation makes sense. Swapping a guard for a forward in the rotation alters the rest of the roster and their expectations going forward. Yet, Carlisle has made clear that players will have to earn their minutes which have been all over the place of late with the fluctuating play throughout the rotation.
Things may get worse in the short term before the get better, as well. The Nuggets, 76ers and Suns all play at the Fieldhouse over the next four days. After that gauntlet, the schedule levels out which should coincide with the team finding their stride with a new rotation.
For reference, consider how the Clippers traded for James Harden on Halloween and then lost their next six games. But the Clips are 24-7 since enduring that initial adjustment after the deal. Hopefully, the Pacers losing streak doesn’t extend that far, but the flashes of what the Pacers can be with Siakam in the mix and the lineup versatility he can facilitate, makes the outlook very positive once they are in sync.
Where: Gainbridge Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN
When: Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024, 7:00 p.m. ET
TV: Bally Sports
Radio: 93.5/107.5 The Fan
Odds: Pacers +3
Pacers: Tyrese Haliburton, Buddy Hield, Aaron Nesmith, Pascal Siakam, Myles Turner
Suns: Jamal Murray, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Michael Porter Jr., Aaron Gordon, Nikola Jokic
Pacers: Tyrese Haliburton (hamstring) - questionable, Andrew Nembhard (back) - questionable, Isaiah Jackson (concussion) - questionable
Nuggets: Vlatko Cancar (knee) - out, Julian Strawther (knee) - out
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