Yes, these are the games I have been talking about all season.
These are the games that the team is "supposed" to win; these are the games that are just sitting there for them to take; these are the games that should give them enough wins to sneak into the final spot in the Eastern Conference standings.
Losing these games will almost always leave you on the outside looking in when it comes to the postseason.
The Pacers were in Minnesota on Wednesday night, facing the worst team in the Western Conference. The Timberwolves got their 16th win of the season though, as they absolutely crushed Indiana in a laugher.
Kevin Love got his record 52nd straight double-double, and he did it with more than seven minutes remaining in the first half.
In a night where Love got to watch this joke of a game from the bench in the fourth quarter, the Pacers looked more and more like a team that is ready to give away the final playoff spot in the East.
In what was a historically bad night for Indiana, they dropped their fifth straight and have now lost seven of their last eight games.
When you look at the numbers, they really do tell the story in this one.
Danny Granger had just ten points on two for 19 shooting from the floor. He attempted nine three-pointers, and missed them all.
Roy Hibbert played 20 minutes, missed all six of his shot attempts and failed to score a single point; Darren Collison didn't do much better, scoring just three points in 23 minutes of play.
Josh McRoberts usually starts at PF, but Hansbrough got the start tonight. Had Josh started the game, the entire starting five for the Pacers would have had a total of 21 points on the night.
As a team, they only had seven total assists; no player had more than one assist on the night.
That is absurd, but believable when you see that they shot just 29 percent from the floor as a team. That also explains how Love was able to pull down 21 rebounds in just 27 minutes of play.
Tyler Hansbrough played well, scoring 21 points and pulling down ten rebounds for a double-double of his own, but nobody else in blue was prepared to play this game. Hansbrough's teammates missed their first 15 shots.
The game got out of hand in the third quarter, when Indiana scored just two points in the first six minutes to fall behind by 22.
During their five-game losing streak, the Pacers are losing by an average of 17 points per game.
There are a few guys I can think of off the top of my head (Jordan, Reggie Miller, Ray Allen, Larry Bird, Chauncey Billups) that I would let shoot nine three-pointers in a game. I would expect all of them to hit at least four, although they would likely hit six or seven. Danny Granger missing all nine of his three-pointers in this game should really be a wake up call to this franchise.
They live and die by his shooting, and lately it has been killing them.
I know there isn't an easy fix to this problem, but the offensive struggles are getting ridiculous. I wish it were as easy as using my preferred starting lineup of Collison, George, Granger, Hansbrough and Hibbert, but that was the lineup that was used tonight.
These guys have been incredibly inconsistent all season long and it is really hurting them now. I wouldn't be surprised if we see a different starting lineup for every game as the rest of the season unfolds.
Something needs to change, because Charlotte is right on their heels for the final playoff spot, which is really bad. That is a team that traded away its best player in Gerald Wallace, for pretty much nothing in return. They have had injuries and have still managed some impressive wins.
Indiana is almost in a must-win situation come Friday night as they head north of the border. They have a game with the Raptors before another tough stretch on the schedule.
If they lose on Friday night, we could possibly see a double-digit losing streak for Indiana.
Tip off for Friday night's game in Toronto is set for 7 PM.
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