Pacers Reeling With Victor Oladipo Still Sidelined
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INDIANAPOLIS – Coal was in the stockings of the Indiana Pacers, and it’s still in there with the calendar changing to 2018.
After exceeding expectations and positioning themselves as the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference through the first 33 games of the season, adversity has hit the Pacers.
They’ve lost 4 in a row.
Their star has missed 3 straight games with a sore right knee.
In a jumbled Eastern Conference, the Pacers (19-18) have quickly dropped to the 8th seed, with any sort of losing streak significantly impacting the standings.
They’ve scored 83, 94 and 90 points in 3 of their last 4 games---their 3 lowest scoring totals of the season.
Slow starts have plagued the Pacers since Christmas.
“We certainly look like we’ve lost a little confidence,” Nate McMillan said after the Pacers were shellacked by the Timberwolves at home on Sunday night.
McMillan had the Pacers take Monday off to try and rest mentally and physically, and they will play just 2 games this week (@Milwaukee on Wednesday and vs. Chicago on Saturday).
“We know we’re better than what we’ve played and what we’ve shown,” McMillan says. “Really in the last week or so we’ve been getting off to slow starts, even with Victor in the lineup and we have to continue to work to try to get stronger, mentally and physically, to play in these games. Teams are just coming out right and just dominating us.”
Oladipo’s absence has certainly impacted the Pacers’ offensive woes.
This is a team void of players with vast experience in successfully being the top scoring options, so without Oladipo the team has struggled to find guys ready for more offensive burden.
As long as Oladipo’s injury doesn’t linger long into January, the Pacers should be able to return to their surprising early-season form.
But the East is too competitive this year to afford this slide to carry on much longer.
“It’s easier said than done,” point guard Darren Collison says of the recent struggles. “Everyone can say it, but it’s all about actions now, being about it, going out and doing it.
“We’re a group that knows what we’re supposed to do, but we’re not going out there and doing it. It’s a very long season. Teams go through stretches like this. For a team to be together for the first time, this is something we have to get through.”