By DJ Siddiqi @DJSiddiqi on April 1, 2014
It would seem the sky is falling in Indiana, as the Indiana Pacers have now dropped behind the Miami Heat for first place in the Eastern Conference after falling to the San Antonio Spurs (103-77) on Monday night. It was the Pacers' sixth loss in their last eight games.
Here are five questions Indiana must answer to solidify their contender status.
The Indiana Pacers have been a mess offensively all season long, but their offensive woes have been magnified due to their recent struggles. The Pacers' assist ratio is down almost a full point since the trade deadline, from 16,1 to 15.2. They currently rank 27th in the entire NBA in assist ratio. If the Pacers don't learn how to pass, they won't be Eastern Conference champions.
Evan Turner has never lived up to his No. 2 overall selection status since being drafted in 2010. The issue is, although he doesn't need to be anything more than a role player with the Pacers, he has struggled since being acquired at the trade deadline. Turner is shooting less than 41 percent from the field and is averaging just seven points per game in 20 minutes per game.
The Pacers have been horrid offensively, from their starting lineup to their bench, since Feb. 20. The Pacers have gone 11-10 since that date, while Indiana has the third-worst scoring bench in the entire NBA. Evan Turner and Luis Scola have contributed little to nothing as the bench's top players.
It seems like when things aren't going well for the Pacers, things get really bad. The team needs to learn how to respond to adversity by banding together, not by playing selfish team ball. George Hill and Lance Stephenson had heated words in Indiana's loss to San Antonio on Monday night. The Pacers have failed to crack 80 points in five of their last six games.
The Pacers' recent struggles have seemed to coincide with Paul George's recent struggles, and it's no big surprise, considering George is the team's best player. In March alone, George shot .372 from the field and .297 from three-point range. To no one's surprise, the team went 8-10 during that stretch. If the Pacers want to capture the East, they need George to play like one of the best.
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