Pacers searching for way to win in Miami
The Pacers will try to avoid streaking in the wrong direction when they wrap up their stay in Miami by playing the Heat on Saturday night.
After letting a strong effort flip into a loss in the second half on Thursday night, the Heat appeared to have the Pacers figured out, even with Bam Adebayo unable to return to the game after aggravating a hip injury. While the Pacers scored 132 points, they were missing shots at winning time as if missing, not making was their job.
The lack of stops turned the game in Miami’s favor in a hurry. While Buddy Hield’s 2 for 11 night from 3-land was maddening, he had to remain in as the team’s best option to shoot them back into the game. With Andrew Nembhard and Aaron Nesmith out early due to fouls, there were no better answers.
The lineup shuffling has become interesting because it seems like every combination can be outstanding for stretches and then leak like a sieve for others. When opponents have size on the wings, it doesn’t seem to matter what combo of Bruce Brown, Nembhard, Hield, Bennedict Mathurin is on the floor, problems eventually arise. Game planning against that lack of length has been easy.
And when shots stop falling for the Pacers, it becomes lethal. The lack of consistency from all of the varied combos, make it feel in losses like the Pacers are just shuffling deck chairs.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Carlisle returns Nesmith to the starting lineup on Saturday. The Pacers won the only game Nesmith started when a change was made to also swap Mathurin for Hield. With Hield starting the Pacers are 2-3, but starting certainly wasn’t a problem in Miami on Thursday. Finishing, and finding someone to step up with Tyrese Haliburton is where they fall short. The current starting lineup, with Toppin and Hield, has a +25ish net rating, so yeah, getting started isn’t the problem.
The Pacers just need a finisher or three to show up at winning time. The question remains: Are they on the roster? As the most ‘make or miss’ team in the league, they continue searching for ways to win when the makes aren’t enough.
Plenty of frustration can be heard in the post-game comments from Thursday.
Tyrese Haliburton is tired of being a loser. This was his response after finishing with 44 points and 10 assists in the loss on Thursday. Haliburton had a legendary November, as ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski revealed, but four missed free throws forced his free throw percentage to dip below 90. That’s what makes the 50-40-90 mark so impressive, because two or three blips of just decent free throw shooting throughout the year can make the free throw percentage tough to maintain.
Of course, Haliburton would happily shoot 85 percent from the line in exchange for more Ws. Hali’s monumental effort in November is dampened by the 7-7 record, including a 1-3 stretch to close out the month. Looking ahead, the schedule stiffens with 8 of 13 December games on the road, starting with the Heat on Saturday night.
The Pacers earned a fifth home game with their 4-0 In-Season Tournament record, but adding a games against the Celtics doesn’t seem like much of a reward. What kind of whistle do you think the Pacers are going to get in that game? Whew. Gonna have to be at their IST best, which has been damn good so far.
Haliburton also showed up on the Pacers injury list as questionable with a bruised knee. Hopefully he will be ready to roll as the Pacers plan to face the Heat with Bam and Tyler Herro already ruled out. Obviously, I’m biased since I haven’t seen ever other NBA team’s wins, but I’d argue no team is more fun to watch when they win than the Pacers. Time to smile, again.
Where: Kaseya Center, Miami, FL
When: Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023, 8:00 p.m. ET
TV: Bally Sports
Radio: 93.5/107.5 The Fan
Pacers: Tyrese Haliburton, Bruce Brown, Buddy Hield, Obi Toppin, Myles Turner
Heat: Kyle Lowry, Duncan Robinson, Jimmy Butler, Haywood Highsmith, Kevin Love
Pacers: Tyrese Haliburton (knee bruise) - questionable, Jalen Smith (heel, knee) - out
Heat: Jimmy Butler (ankle) - probable, Bam Adebayo (hip) - out, R.J. Hampton (knee) - out, Tyler Herro (ankle) - out, Dru Smith (knee) - out
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