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With Victor Oladipo Out, Pacers Must Find Late Game Answer

A sore right knee will keep Victor Oladipo off the floor on Friday night against the Bulls. How must the Pacers make up for the loss of their leading scorer?

Michael Reaves | Getty Images

INDIANAPOLIS – Wednesday night painted a scary picture of how the Indiana Pacers operate with Victor Oladipo dressed in a suit.

With Oladipo missing his second game of the season on Wednesday, the Pacers were passive and settled far too often in the game’s closing minutes.

Dallas outscored the Pacers 14-4 in the final 5 minutes on Wednesday. The loss for the Pacers saw them miss 10 of their final 12 shots, finishing the game with just 94 points---their second lowest output of the season.

The Mavericks (11-25) were content with switching things defensively late and the Pacers (19-16) could not take advantage of favorable matchups in the post or on the perimeter.

“Normally Victor has the ball in his hands, but I thought (Wednesday) we got the shots that we wanted, we just didn’t execute,” Nate McMillan said after the team lost their second game with Oladipo sidelined this season. “Normally Victor is involved in those plays, but our guys had opportunities and we didn’t execute.”

It’s certainly part of the growing process for this team.

Finding a reliable ‘closer’ was a question entering the season. Oladipo has answered that with authority through the first half of the season.

But Oladipo’s absence on Wednesday showed how much the Pacers lack a supporting act who craves the ball late.

Myles Turner once again struggled to attack the rim, despite having major height advantages when Dallas switched their defensive assignments.

Lance Stephenson (16 points and 15 rebounds) was outstanding for long stretches of Wednesday, before committing a careless turnover with the Pacers down 1 and less than 30 seconds remaining.

Too often late on Wednesday, the Pacers relied on contested perimeter shots to try and save the night against one of the NBA’s worst teams.

They finished Wednesday with 25 assists---which is a goal each night for McMillan---but had just 1 in the game’s final 6 minutes.

With how jumbled the Eastern Conference is right now, the Pacers cannot afford much of a slide if Oladipo is out past Friday.

Part of this team’s development is finding complementary options when Oladipo is sidelined or is taken away.

Friday is a chance to show that growth with their All-Star again observing.


What’s Next: The Pacers (19-16) will have 2 more games remaining this week: @Bulls (Friday) and Timberwolves (Sunday).

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