Despite having won three of their past four games, and three straight, the Indiana Pacers are struggling offensively in 2014.
They kicked off the New Year with an embarrassing 82-95 loss to the Toronto Raptors on January 1. Although Indiana avenged that loss on Tuesday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse with a 86-79 victory, it wasn’t pretty. Roy Hibbert led the offense with 22 points and eight boards, while Lance Stephenson added 13 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. Yes, nearly another triple-double. Danny Granger matched Stephenson’s point total of 13.
Nonetheless, the Pacers’ other two wins posted 99 and 82 points, respectively, on offense. That’s an average of 87.25 points per game over the last four outings. Surprisingly enough, that average has been good enough to walk away with three wins and hold a 28-6 mark on the season heading into tonight’s matchup with the Atlanta Hawks.
Not helping the cause offensively is the funk Paul George has found himself in. George has averaged 15.7 points a game in 2014, shooting a combined 21-60 (35%) from the floor. His season average is 22.9, a difference of -7.2 PPG. George’s season average has certainly dipped in the last week.
Something has to change for the Indiana Pacers. Eventually, the offensive struggle will catch up with them. Luckily, none of the three teams they’ve played in 2014 (including two matchups with Toronto) have a winning record.
This team wouldn’t be pulling out wins with those offensive numbers against the better teams in the league. It does, however, say something about this group that they can still pull out wins even when sucked into a valley on the offensive end.
It says more about the defense than anything else, which remains the best in the league by a mile. The defense has allowed a lowly 83.5 PPG in 2014. Credit to Frank Vogel and his coaching staff for keeping the defensive prowess of their guys in tact.
Of possibly greater importance is the collective effort of the Pacers to play together. The five starters all average 11.0 points or more per game, led of course by George’s 22.9. Danny Granger and Luis Scola average 9.3 and 8.4 points per game, respectively, off the Indiana bench. That effort across the board speaks volumes about this squad.
Allow me to join the peanut gallery when I say Vogel should still be searching for more ways to get Paul George open looks at the basket. He’s obviously the Pacers’ best player offensively, and definitely needs to get back to his early-season success.