Top 5 Weaknesses for Indiana Pacers as NBA Playoffs Near

Pacers face uphill battle in upcoming playoff series.

by Nouman Rasool
Top 5 Weaknesses for Indiana Pacers as NBA Playoffs Near
© Cole Burston/Getty Images

The Indiana Pacers secured the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference, clinching the final guaranteed playoff spot with a resounding 157-115 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday. This win not only showcased their offensive prowess but also allowed them to sidestep the precarious play-in tournament.

Looking ahead, the Pacers are set to face the Milwaukee Bucks in what promises to be a gripping first-round playoff series. This marks Indiana's first playoff appearance since 2020, when they were swept in the first round by the Miami Heat.

To avoid a repeat of that early exit, the Pacers are now focused on addressing key weaknesses that have plagued their performance throughout the season. A timeless basketball maxim holds that defense wins championships. Despite this, the Pacers have struggled defensively, finishing the season 24th in league defensive ratings—the lowest among teams that made the playoffs directly.

Head coach Rick Carlisle has emphasized the need for improvement on this front, but the team has yet to show significant progress. On nights when their shooting falters, their defensive lapses have become especially costly.

Rebounding Challenges Persist

Rebounding has also been a sore point for Indiana, with the team capturing only 41.5 rebounds per game, one of the league's lowest figures. This shortfall has often left them unable to control the pace and flow of games, a critical factor they must remedy to contend with the Bucks' robust lineup.

The Pacers' rebounding challenges are compounded by a lack of depth in their frontcourt. Since trading Domantas Sabonis for Tyrese Haliburton, the team has not effectively addressed this gap. Myles Turner remains their sole true center, with forwards like Obi Toppin and Jalen Johnson struggling to fill the void in rebounding.

This deficiency could pose a significant disadvantage against the East's more formidable frontlines. Indiana’s defensive frailties have frequently put their opponents on the free throw line, leading the league in free throws allowed per game.

This issue could become particularly problematic against Giannis Antetokounmpo, a player known for drawing fouls. Limiting these opportunities will be crucial for the Pacers to stand a chance in the upcoming series. On a more positive note, Indiana ranks ninth in the NBA for 3-point shooting accuracy at 37.4%.

However, their moderate number of attempts from beyond the arc suggests an area ripe for strategic adjustment. Increasing their volume of 3-point shots could leverage their shooting strengths and provide a tactical edge. As the Pacers gear up for their playoff run, these areas of concern will need swift and effective resolution if they hope to make a deep postseason push.

Fans and analysts alike will be watching closely to see if Indiana can turn these vulnerabilities into strengths against the high-caliber Milwaukee Bucks.

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