The Indiana Pacers came into the season as the lead contender to the two-time defending NBA champion Miami Heat but have started off their 2013 preseason campaign 0-3. Is their slow start anything to be worried about?
The Pacers opened their preseason with a 82-76 home loss to the division rival Chicago Bulls, then proceeded to lose two overseas games against the Houston Rockets. The Chicago game wasn’t a surprise, as it was a low-scoring affair against a good team who was riding off the hype behind Derrick Rose‘s return. The two Houston games, however, were very uncharacteristic of the smash-mouth Pacers, who gave up over 100 points in both contests against the Rockets. Something is definitely different about this Indiana team, and it has been showing on the court early on in the preseason.
The additions of C.J. Watson, Chris Copeland, and Luis Scola, along with the return of Danny Granger, was expected to cause some offensive chemistry issues, but that hasn’t been the case. Indiana only scored 76 points against Chicago, but they are very similar to the Pacers with their defensive presence so it makes sense. The Pacers did score 96 and 98 points overseas against Houston, but they tried to outscore their opponents and didn’t really focus much on defense.
My take on all this is that it’s really too early to say what’s going on with Indiana. They do have a lot going on with trying to accommodate their newest players, as well as trying to ease Granger back into everything. Their most evenly matched opponent so far was the Bulls, who only beat them by six. Houston is a very strong team offensively and is expected to score over 100 points in each game, so the Pacers couldn’t really show anything impressive defensively.
Indiana’s 0-3 start isn’t something to worry about yet, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have things to work on. From what they’ve shown so far, they are not the same defensive team they were last season, however, it may not be a problem. Larry Bird specifically went out in the offseason looking for players to help out offensively, and he got that with all three additions along with Granger coming back. They can’t go out giving up 100 points per game, but as long as they play with that smash-mouth play-style and keep the score in the 90s, they should have a chance to win every game. Last season it was all about defense, but now that they have more offensive firepower they can ease up on D a little bit and try to take advantage on offense.
We shouldn’t make anything of their preseason efforts quite yet, but the Pacers do need to make some adjustments and start getting these kinks out before the regular season arrives. It’s not looking too good right now, but the Pacers should be just fine.