After an early cupcake schedule, the Indiana Pacers rolled into Miami for their first true test of the season brimming with confidence. Three hours of abysmal basketball later, the Pacers left with their tails through their legs dejected. Suffering the most lopsided defeat of the young NBA season, the Indiana Pacers were absolutely embarrassed losing 118-83.
Other than Roy Hibbert who posted his fourth double-double in six games, no one came to play for the Pacers who looked lethargic on defense, were sloppy on offense and overall put forth just a terrible effort.
For the Pacers, the matchup against the reigning Eastern Conference champs was not only a measuring stick, it was an opportunity as Miami Heat guard Dwayne Wade was sidelined with an injury. Instead of the fierce battle Pacer fans hoped for and expected, Indiana delivered a major disappointment coming up way short.
High expectations and the letdown aside, the Pacers are much better than what they showed Wednesday night. Duds happen in the NBA and although few are as ugly or pronounced as the effort Indiana put forth in Miami, all teams will suffer through a few off nights.
On such occasions, it is less the final score of that game that matters but rather how the team responds that is more telling. At 4-2, Indiana has still been a surprise team in the East and is considered one of the conference's better teams.
Notably, can the Pacers find enough offense?
That was the biggest trouble last season and a problem that plagued them in their first round playoff series loss to the Bulls.
With the offseason acquisitions of David West and George Hill and with the emergence of Paul George and Roy Hibbert, the Pacers had hoped to have answered that question. However, it is nights light Wednesday when Indiana managed only 12 second quarter points, that such concerns reemerge.
For the Pacers, the key is to shake off the defeat and forget what happened in Miami. They are a better team than what they showed against the Heat and have to regain their focus and concentration as they embark on one of the most difficult stretches of their season.
Certainly fan hype and expectations have been tempered some. Nevertheless, Indiana should still be buzzing as this is a far superior team to last year's and will have plenty of other chances to prove they belong, starting with their next game against the Celtics.
One bad loss like tonight is no big deal so long as it motivates the Pacers and Indiana can bounce back and respond. Danny Granger and company couldn't ask for a better second chance than against Boston.
With solid rebounding and defense, expect the Pacers to get back to their winning ways.