COBB: 4 takeaways from the Pacers first 10 games

After the first ten games of the season the Pacers are 6-4.

152 points in one game, tying a team record. Leading the league in three different categories. The first-ever NBA In-season Tournament win. 

The Pacers have gotten off to a pretty good start, going 6-4 and sitting third in the Eastern Conference. However, it is only the beginning. Here are some takeaways from the first 10 games of the season.

Offensive Strength

Indiana has looked great on the offensive end, averaging a league-high 126.0 points per game. Additionally, the Pacers lead the league with 142 three-point field goals, having four games with 20+. 

The offense is clicking and they just look comfortable. Players are catching the ball ready to score and shoot the ball, and they are shooting it well. Through the first few weeks of play, Indiana is shooting 49.6 percent from the field, which is second in the NBA behind the defending champion Denver Nuggets, and 38.7 percent from deep, also top-five in the league. 

Down the rotation players have shown they aren’t afraid to score, but this season has shown that making the extra pass is more important. 

Ball movement/Depth

Not many Pacers possessions from the halfcourt end with one pass and shot. Most see three or five players touching the ball, swinging it to the next guy to find the best shot. With an average of 30.7 assists per game, Indiana leads the NBA.

This “one more” mentality has resulted in seven different players averaging double-figure points (Haliburton, Turner, Mathurin, Hield, Nesmith, Smith, Brown). 

While certain players contribute to scoring, everyone plays a role. This rotation of young, athletic hoopers allows for Rick Carlisle to have extra bodies to put in the game and make a difference. 

In a postgame presser, Pacers star guard Tyrese Haliburton said, “Everybody is contributing. We probably have, truthfully, the best bench in the NBA right now.”

Defensive struggle

For as good as the offense has been, the defensive end still needs improvement. Sporting a 117 defensive rating, the Pacers allow 121.6 points per game. Both of these stats are ranked in the bottom five of the NBA. 

On Nov. 1, the Pacers traveled to Boston for a matchup with the Celtics and left the city with a whopping 51-point loss. Granted, the team was without Haliburton, but allowing 155 points still shouldn’t happen.

Two players have scored 50 or more points versus Indiana. Sunday in the loss against Philadelphia, Tyrese Maxey scored 50, shooting 20-32 FG and 7-11 3PT.

In the contest with Milwaukee last Thursday, forward Giannis Antetokuonmpo erupted for 54 points, shooting 19-25 from the field. However, thanks to late-game scoring, the Pacers won the game. 

Game closure

Two out of four losses in the first ten games stemmed from a failure to close the game. 

In the Oct. 30 game against Chicago, Indiana was locked in a close game with the Bulls through three quarters. However, in the fourth quarter, the Pacers were beaten 34 to 22. A failure to come up with key defensive stops late coupled with the inability to make shots led to the 112 to 105 loss. 

When the Charlotte Hornets came to Indy, Haliburton played probably the best of his career, scoring 43 points while shooting 66.7 percent (14/21 FG, 8/12 3PT) and dishing out 12 assists. In spite of this career game, it was overcast by the final play of the game. With around ten seconds left, Haliburton had the ball and was in isolation against Hornets star LaMelo Ball. Indiana was unable to even get a shot up as Ball stole the ball from Haliburton and the clock ran out.

While the Pacers and Haliburton in particular have shown the skill to end a game on top, there have been a few times when it was the opposite. 

The Pacers are an active, young team led by one of the league's most promising young stars. If they are able to improve defensively, Indiana can be a dangerous team. 

Contact Derran Cobb with comments at or on Twitter @Derran_cobb.


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