Is It Time for the Indiana Pacers to Hit the Panic Button?

Is it time to hit the panic button? Dan Favale of Bleacher Report thinks the Indiana Pacers defense is a major cause for concern.

Because of the Indiana Pacers being near the bottom of the NBA in defensive rating, Dan Favale of Bleacher Report has named the Pacers one of the five teams that “already need to sound the early season alarm.”

As of November 2nd, the Pacers’ defensive rating of 107.2 is better than that of only the New York Knicks, Houston Rockets, and Washington Wizards. Even more troubling is that the Pacers’ defensive rating has increased by 7 points over the team’s 100.2 defensive rating from last season, which was good for third place.

While Favale called the Pacers’ offensive rating improvement from 102.4 to 103.7 this season “marginal”, it does represent a jump from 23rd to 11th place.

Nevertheless, the team’s net rating is -3.5, which is only 18th in the NBA. In contrast, the Pacers were on the positive side in 2015-16 with a net rating of 2.2, which was good for 11th place last season.

Favale sees some of the present positives the Pacers are experiencing only as evidence that the Pacers’ season may get worse. Even though Paul George, C.J. Miles, and Thaddeus Young are shooting over 50 percent from the 3-point line, he contends that those 50+ percentages won’t last, and therefore, the points totals the Pacers are experiencing presently are bound to drop off later in the season.

Although it’s unlikely that any of those three players (or anyone in the NBA) will end the season with a .500 3-point percentage, the fact that Young already has five 3-pointers in four games is very positive considering he had only seven 3-pointers for the Brooklyn Nets during the 2016 season.

Additionally, only 8.5 of the Pacers’ 42 field goals per game are 3-pointers, which lessens any concern over a 3-point percentage drop-off. What Favale also didn’t take into consideration is that Myles Turner’s 18.0 ppg average this season almost equals Turner’s 10.3 ppg plus Ian Mahinmi’s 9.3 ppg averages in 2016.

There are more concerns than just the ones Favale mentioned in his article, however. One of those is the 15-31 fourth quarter deficit the Pacers had in the 4th quarter of their October 28 game against the Nets that ended up in a 103-94 loss. Another is was the 118-101 drumming by the Chicago Bulls the next day.

Simply put, the Pacers are getting outscored by an average of 2925 in fourth quarters.

Another concerning statistic from the Mavericks game on Oct. 26 and the Nets game on October 28 is the bench totaled only 25 points in each of those contests.

On an individual level, the fact that Jeff Teague’s 8.8 ppg is almost half of what he averaged in 2016 for the Atlanta Hawks is bothersome. But on the other hand, his career high 7.3 assists are helping the Pacers generate the points to average a fourth-best 110.0 ppg. That is considerably better than their 17th-ranker 102.2 average from 2015-16.

While Al Jefferson is averaging only 4.8 ppg off the bench compared to the 12.0 ppg he averaged in 2016 for the Charlotte Hornets, some of that can be attributed to going from 23.3 mpg with the Hornets last year to only 12.8 mpg this season with the Pacers. Another part can be attributed to a .0.9 FG% this season compared to a 48.5 FG% in 2016.

Subjectively, while watching Jefferson out on the court on television, he seems confused at times, which isn’t what one would expect from a veteran. During an exhibition game with the Milwaukee Bucks, Jefferson was holding the ball and couldn’t figure out what to do with it. Finally, Jefferson threw the ball to Julyan Stone, who’s now on the D-League Fort Wayne Mad Ants roster, and Stone reset the offense.

While there are some hot spots that the Pacers need to attend to, the team isn’t in a state of a raging inferno and needs to be doused by the sprinkler system in Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The team might also take encouragement in that the Los Angeles Lakers beat the previously undefeated Atlanta Hawks 123-116 Tuesday after the Lakers lost to the Pacers the night before.

The Pacers head to Milwaukee to play the Bucks tonight at 8 p.m.

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