After two straight home losses, the Pacers (7-5) hit the road for a challenging weekend road trip, with visits to Miami and Houston.
Indiana has dropped its last two games in eerily similar fashion — a 98-94 loss to the Rockets on Monday and a 100-94 decision against Philadelphia on Wednesday. In both contests, the Blue & Gold played well enough to win defensively, but cost themselves with a subpar performance on the offensive end.
"It's going to be tough to beat anybody in this league scoring 90 points," head coach Nate McMillan said after the loss to Houston. "We have to get to our tempo, we have to push the ball, we have to play faster. Games played in the 90's, I think they're gone."
Yet even after those comments, Indiana struggled to push the pace against Philadelphia. They fell behind early, trailing 13-2 and 19-4, and became overly reliant on All-Star guard Victor Oladipo.
Oladipo delivered for a while, scoring 15 points in the first quarter and 24 before halftime as the Pacers actually rallied to take the lead midway through the second quarter, but ran out of gas late. He finished with 36 points but on 30 shots, going 4-for-14 from 3-point range.
Other than Domantas Sabonis, who had another solid showing off the bench with 16 points on 7-of-14 shooting and 11 rebounds, no one else produced for the Pacers. The other eight players who saw the floor against Philadelphia combined for just 42 points on 16-of-50 shooting (32 percent).
"Everybody just has to do self-reflection right now," Oladipo said after Wednesday's loss. "Just kind of figure out what they need and what they need to do to be at their best. When everyone is at their best and does what they do well, then our team is at our best."
Indiana will be hoping for a better offensive performance against the Heat (5-5). That will be a challenge against a Miami defense anchored by the intimidating interior presence of 7-foot center Hassan Whiteside.
Whiteside leads the NBA in blocked shots and is coming off a dominant performance in a 95-88 win over San Antonio, when he posted the eye-popping stat line of 29 points, 20 rebounds, and nine blocks.
Pacers: PG - Darren Collison, SG - Victor Oladipo, SF - Bojan Bogdanovic, PF - Thaddeus Young, C - Myles Turner
Heat: PG - Goran Dragic, SG - Josh Richardson, SF - Rodney McGruder, PF - Justise Winslow, C - Hassan Whiteside
March 25, 2018: The Pacers clinched a playoff berth with a 113-107 overtime win over the Heat at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Victor Oladipo led Indiana with 23 points and five assists, while Thaddeus Young added 22 points, nine rebounds, and five steals. Bojan Bogdanovic (18 points and eight rebounds) and Cory Joseph (nine points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists) also had strong performances for the Blue & Gold.
"This is one of the most unique teams I’ve ever been around, especially with the guys we have," Young said after the win. "Everybody is kind of chipping in and doing their part. There are no egos in the locker room, everybody just goes out there and does their job and we try to win as many games as possible."
Tyler Johnson led Miami with 19 points, while James Johnson added 15 points and nine rebounds.
- Indiana and Miami play three times next season, including twice in the next week. The Heat make their only visit to Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Nov. 16 and the two teams will meet once more in Miami on Feb. 2.
- The Pacers are 63-47 overall in the regular season against the Heat, but just 18-37 in games played in Miami.
- The Pacers had lost six straight games in Miami before their 120-95 win in their last visit to AmericanAirlines Arena on Nov. 19, 2017.
The Pacers will host the Heat next Friday, Nov. 16 at 7:00 PM ET. Secure your seats today for what will be Dwyane Wade's final regular season game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Find Tickets »
Broadcast Information TV & Radio Listings »
TV: FOX Sports Indiana - Chris Denari (play-by-play), Quinn Buckner (analyst), Jeremiah Johnson (sideline reporter/host)
Radio: 107.5 FM/AM 1070 The Fan - Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Eddie Gill (analyst), Pat Boylan (studio host)