The Indiana Pacers came out in the Eastern Conference Semifinals about as flat as humanly possible. They showed zero effort or energy in the 102-96 loss to the Washington Wizards.
The Pacers were a paltry 5-of-23 from the field in the opening quarter and outscored 28-15 by the Wizards. The Pacers couldn’t find any rhythm on the court for the rest of the game and simply looked lost for the entire game.
They are playing with such a lack of passion, its a wonder fans still care. If the team doesn’t care about the playoffs, then why should the fans?
While the Pacers can return to their preferred style of play, it didn’t help all that much Monday night. Roy Hibbert was still a lost cause and liability on the court. The Pacers played will little energy or intelligence, and couldn’t pair the two together to save their lives.
Hibbert didn’t score a point (on just two attempts) but more importantly didn’t get a single rebound. That speaks volumes about his effort in the paint, and he shouldn’t be tired since he didn’t play all that much in the series against Atlanta.
Hibbert completely forgetting how to play basketball is destroying this team. They’re not out-working or out-rebounding teams anymore, and his lackluster play is the reason why. He wasn’t fighting for position at either end of the court and his effort overall leaves so much to be desired, its surprising Hibbert still gets to start.
The Pacers had a chance to make it a tight game, but went on a six minute plus stretch in the fourth quarter without hitting a field goal. Indiana just couldn’t get over the hump and it was primarily due to poor offensive execution. Rumors have started to swirl that coach Frank Vogel’s offensive playbook is written on dirty cocktail napkins and impossible to read.
Bradley Beal and Trevor Ariza went off for the Wizards, combining for 45 points. John Wall shot just 28-percent from the field but did dish out nine assists. If Wall doesn’t have to play at a high level for the Wizards to win, then the Pacers are in real trouble.
Paul George led the team with 18 points, but struggled to get there. He was just 4-of-17 from the field and settled for a number of bad looks. He did have six rebounds and five assists. George’s effort on defense left a lot to be desired (as evidenced by Ariza’s 22 points and 6-for-6 three point shooting) as he looked disinterested in guarding his man.
David West recorded a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds. He was about the only Pacer to attack the glass, as Indiana was out-rebounded 53-36. The Wizards hauled an embarrassing 17 offensive rebounds as well.
George Hill didn’t play particularly well, but did hit a few desperation three pointers late in the game. Hill had 18 points but only one assist.
Lance Stephenson had a rough shooting night, just 4-for-13, but did give the Pacers a boost in the third quarter when the team was trying to cut into the lead. Stephenson finished with 12 points, six rebounds, but the team’s assist leader only recorded two.
The Indiana bench actually showed up to make a solid contribution. The Pacers reserves outscored the Wizards 33-15, but it didn’t matter.
Luis Scola led the bench with 12 points off 6-for-11 shooting. Defensively he also had a pair of blocks and a steal. Scola didn’t play in game six or seven against the Hawks.
Indiana has to get more production from its starting five. The Pacers defense was atrocious tonight and if they are going to have a chance in this series, it starts at that end of the court. In the two regular season wins against the Wizards, the Pacers D was a force to be reckoned with and this team needs to realize that is their greatest strength.
The Pacers will host the Wizards again on Wednesday at 7PM with the broadcast on TNT.