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The 33-point loss to the L.A. Clippers serves as a measuring stick for the Indiana Pacers.

One of the three favorites to win the NBA title along with the L.A. Lakers and Brooklyn Nets, the Clippers got what they wanted inside (layups) and out (open 3s) — the two shots opposing defenses want to limit the most.

Indiana Pacers guard Cheap Edmond Sumner Jersey (5) defends against Los Angeles Clippers guard Paul George (13) during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
When Cheap Paul George Jersey and Kawhi Leonard decided to put it out of reach, they did.

The Clippers also are prone to lapses themselves. They’ve been beaten by 51 themselves. It all underscores the need for common sense in a 72-game season.

>>With 2 All-NBA players, they’re better than the Pacers who don’t have any

>>Cheap Myles Turner Jersey, the league leader in blocked shots (4.2 per game) didn’t play

>>3 reserves had to start, Cheap Doug McDermott Jersey, Cheap Justin Holiday Jersey and Edmond Sumner

>>It was the finale of a 4-game trip that lasted 8 days

The Pacers’ manufactured starting lineup played mostly even with the Clippers. They lacked scoring behind that group to sustain any momentum.

Going in, the plan was for Indiana to be playing its best basketball going into the postseason — not before All-Star break.

In the previous two seasons in which the Pacers stormed out of the gates, they were swept in the first round of their playoff series.

They still wouldn’t have won vs. Boston or Miami, but they’d gotten predictable and lacked the innovation needed to prevent a sweep.

Coach Nate Bjorkgren has yet to get back Cheap Jeremy Lamb Jersey, who could be ready to play any day for the first time in a year since tearing his left knee ligament and breaking his leg.

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The returns of Cheap T.J. Warren Jersey and Cheap Caris LeVert Jersey have yet to be determined but they’ll add more wrinkles to an offense. Both are scorers first.

In the meantime, McDermott has gotten better. He’s more than a catch-and-shoot 3-point specialist.

Bjorkgren is using him on both sides of the floor. In the past, McDermott has only played on the left side which allowed him to go to his strong hand. Playing on the right side requires him to use his weak hand to get to the rim but also it forces defenses to work harder to take him away.

Turner has proven more versatile offensively as he’s gotten the green light to handle the ball up top and attack mismatches off the bounce.

The spacing with the other starting big, Cheap Domantas Sabonis Jersey, has opened more possibilities for both.

Cheap Aaron Holiday Jersey plays better with the second unit. Despite lacking a 3-point shot, there’s room for Cheap T.J. McConnell Jersey, at least in the regular season.

The next frontier is among the newcomers. Will there be a breakout from Cheap Cassius Stanley Jersey, Cheap Kelan Martin Jersey or Cheap Jalen Lecque Jersey?

There are a few months for that to develop, but whoever the Pacers are now isn’t who they’ll be for the playoffs.

This isn’t anything like the 46-point loss to the Toronto Raptors last season which was telling about the Pacers.

That team lacked the discipline. It lacked fire.

This version isn’t the Clippers, but the gulf between them isn’t as big as it appeared Sunday.

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Walsh’s words proved prophetic. But despite Brown’s initial success, the Pacers lost in the first round of the playoffs in 1996 and didn’t make the playoffs in 1997. He resigned, saying he felt shame that the team didn’t make the playoffs and he wanted more input into personnel moves. He did manage to leave with his friendship with Walsh intact.

“I’m leaving because I think it’s time to move on,” said Brown, who was quickly hired by the Philadelphia 76ers, making the NBA finals in 2001. He won an NBA championship with Detroit in 2004.

5.Rick Carlisle (181-147, .552)
How different is history for the Pacers and Carlisle if not for the Malice in the Palace?

They went 61-21 and made the Eastern Conference Finals with a young, talented roster in his first season. The top three scorers were Jermaine O’Neal, Ron Artest and Cheap Al Harrington Jersey; O’Neal was the oldest at 25.

But nine games into 2004-05, Artest went into the stands in Detroit, derailing that promising core. The team was also plagued by injuries and arrests. That Carlisle produced a 44-38 record that season in impressive. But the record got worse the next two seasons as Larry Bird re-shaped the roster.

The Pacers were 29-24 shortly after the All-Star break in 2006-07 but lost their next 11 games and Carlisle was out after the season. He was hired by Dallas and has developed a reputation as one of the NBA’s best coaches, winning an NBA title in 2011.

Carlisle was criticized for his communication skills and for coddling certain players, but it’s unlikely anyone could have weathered the storm that faced Carlisle after his first season.

“There were a lot of things that went on here in the last three years there were embarrassing,” Bird said in announcing Carlisle’s dismissal. “It hurts being from Indiana. I had a major problem with a lot of it and we can’t have that.”

Carlisle added: “When you know it’s time, you know it’s time.”

6. Nate McMillan (183-136, .574)
McMillan was a surprising choice as the replacement for Frank Vogel but proved his worth in four seasons, keeping the Pacers competitive despite the Cheap Paul George Jersey drama.

Indiana made the playoffs in all four seasons as McMillan helped Cheap Victor Oladipo Jersey and Cheap Domantas Sabonis Jersey —the widely-panned trade package received for George — develop into all-stars, and got defensive improvement out of players such as Bojan Bogdanovic and Cheap T.J. Warren Jersey.

But the Pacers didn’t get out of the first round and were swept three times, resulting in a 3-16 playoff record. McMillan was given a contract extension before the league’s restart in the Orlando bubble this season but was fired after getting swept by the Heat in the first round despite playing without Sabonis and with Oladipo at less than 100% following a serious knee injury the previous season.

“We gave it a good run. Over the last few years, not getting out of that first round, I take responsibility for that,” McMillan told IndyStar. “It’s under my watch regardless of the number of injuries we’ve had. I didn’t get it done. The organization wanted to move on. I understand that.

“Sometimes it’s just time for a change. I agreed with that, too.”

7. Bob Hill (113-108, .511)
The 1990-91 Pacers vs. Celtics first-round playoff matchup is one of the great overlooked series in NBA history. The Pacers would lose, 3-2, but it’s not hard to pinpoint it as the start of the franchise’s success in the years to come.

However, it took Larry Brown for the Pacers to take the next step up as Hill followed up a 32-25 partial season and that incredible playoff series by going 40-42 and 41-41 without getting out of the first round of the playoffs.

When the team couldn’t come close to selling out Market Square Arena for playoff games vs. the Knicks in 1993, Hill was fired.

Talent seemed to be the biggest issue. Hill opposed trading Cheap Chuck Person Jersey and Cheap Micheal Williams Jersey for Pooh Richardson and Cheap Sam Mitchell Jersey the previous season … and he was right. Richardson was a 16-plus point per game scorer in Minnesota but barely hit double digits in Indiana and Mitchell was a role player who had his worst seasons in Indianapolis. But Person waned quickly and Williams was done after two more good seasons so keeping the duo would have been unlikely to have helped Hill keep his job

He had two successful seasons in San Antonio but a 3-15 start in 1996 opened the door for Gregg Popovich.

8. Isiah Thomas (131-115, .533)
Thomas is a challenge to rank. He took over a team that made the NBA Finals and didn’t get out of the first round of the playoffs. Then, the first season without him, the team went to the Eastern Conference Finals. You could argue he belongs one spot higher or lower on this list, so we’ll slot him in here.

Thomas inherited a team in transition but certainly not without talent, losing Cheap Rik Smits Jersey to retirement but gaining future star Jermaine O’Neal. Cheap Dale Davis Jersey was dealt for O’Neal, but Al Harrington was ready for a bigger role. Cheap Jonathan Bender Jersey couldn’t overcome knee injuries but Cheap Jeff Foster Jersey would develop into a useful big man. Cheap Mark Jackson Jersey was let go but Cheap Travis Best Jersey was ready to step up. The team added Cheap Brad Miller Jersey, Ron Artest and Cheap Jamaal Tinsley Jersey.

In the end, the Pacers just didn’t develop under Thomas. They were 37-15 on Feb. 14, 2003, but would finish the season 11-19 and were eliminated in the playoffs by a lower-seeded Celtics team.

Larry Bird’s first major move as a Pacers executive was to fire his former rival two months before the season and hire Rick Carlisle.

“I just had a gut feeling it wasn’t going to work,” Bird said at the time.

9. Jack Ramsay (79-92, .462)
The legendary coach got mediocre results in an Indiana tenure highlighted by the team’s first NBA playoff win.

“When my brother, Melvin, and I bought the Pacers he was one of our first coaches and took us to our first NBA playoff series,” Pacers owner Herb Simon said in a news release following Ramsay’s death in 2014. “Jack was a good, humble man who gave us our first taste of success in the NBA. This is a loss for the sport of basketball, not just the Pacers.”

Ramsay and Donnie Walsh teamed to make one of the most influential decisions in the history of the franchise.

After the 1987 season, the Pacers targeted improving their backcourt; Walsh was in Hawaii the first time he saw lanky, 6-7 UCLA guard Cheap Reggie Miller Jersey. He called Ramsay, sent him film of Miller and asked his opinion.

“Draft him,” Ramsay said.

Miller would go on to a Hall of Fame career and lead the Pacers to their greatest run of success in the NBA in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Ramsay was 864-783 in his NBA career, and was named one of the league’s Top 10 all-time coaches in 1996. He won the NBA title in Portland in 1977

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Domantas Sabonis truly is a star, now it’s just time for the world to take notice.

Welcome to Pacer Profile, the series where myself and 8.9 Seconds contributor Aaron Braaksma take turns breaking down and analyzing the players who will be suiting up in that notorious navy and gold for the Indiana Pacers during the 2020-2021 NBA Season.

Today we are breaking down the skill set, strengths, weaknesses, and projected utilization and production of the Pacers’ star big man Domantas Sabonis.

Strengths
Scoring: Interior Dominance

From a scoring perspective, Sabonis is making it hard to warrant putting a single defender on him if stopping an easy two points is the opposing team’s objective. In 2019-20, Sabonis was extremely effective inside the arc because of his borderline unarguable post-game, filled with powerful drop steps, soft-touched post hooks, and some nasty post spins that would make his father Arvydas proud.

Each of these look as if they’ve been done hundreds of times, as his footwork might be some of the purest and fundamentally sound in the league.

In the aforementioned 2019-20 season, he took 92% of his field goals from inside the arc and converted on about 56% of these attempts. This speaks volumes about his ability to convert inside, and he gets lots of these buckets after coming out of a pick and roll, where he is a great diving big man out of this pick and roll situation.

To put the icing on the scoring cake, he appears to have some real upside as a shooter, as his standstill mid-range shooting is already a viable option.

Passing: 6-foot-11 offensive hub

Simply put, Cheap Domantas Sabonis Jersey is in the same tier as a player like Nikola Jokic when it comes to big men who pass like elite floor generals. It’s difficult to find plays where the Pacers’ point forward doesn’t hit the right man in an offensive set, and he routinely manipulates defenses with his needle threading passes to cutters or open three-point bombers like Cheap T.J. Warren Jersey, Cheap Malcolm Brogdon Jersey, Cheap Doug McDermott Jersey, and Cheap Justin Holiday Jersey.

He seems to know exactly where everyone is on the floor at any given time and he even makes passes based on assumption, not actually seeing a teammate yet, a skill only possessed by elite passers. He is a bit dependent on his left hand when making these plays, but his decision making is quick enough to mitigate this deficiency.

To throw some stats at you, in the 2019-20 season Sabonis made 67 passes a game, which was in the top three of players in the entire league, ahead of star passers like Luka Doncic and Lebron James. Although he only averaged five assists a game, he dished out 8.2 “potential assists” a game, which shows his ability to hit teammates in scoring position.

Rebounding: A real glass-gobbler

Sabonis is becoming one of the better rebounders in the league, and that is largely due to his instinctual “nose for the ball” and more importantly how he utilizes his superior strength and box out skills. Domantas has developed the ability to box out out of necessity because he can’t just out-length everyone like some bigs. Although he is 6-foot-11, his wingspan matches that, which doesn’t allow a lot of error when playing against players with over 7-foot wingspans.

Domantas actually seems to use this as a biological advantage, because it seems that this “average” wingspan for his size has actually allowed him to throw on much more muscle than his tall peers, which in turn can boost his post scoring and the aforementioned rebounding.

In 2019-20, he averaged 12.4 rebounds, which put him in the top five, while being top twelve in offensive rebounding with around three a game. They say whoever controls the glass will win the game, and there are nights when it seems like he is doing that all by himself.

With all of the previously listed strengths being enough to put him among the best big men in the league, there are still serious chinks in his armor that are holding the 24 year old back from superstardom.