There’s no doubt that the Pacers have a solid and often underrated lineup under new coach Rick Carlisle.
Power forward Domantas Sabonis scored 33 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the opening 123-122 opening loss to the Hornets.
Center Myles Turner went for 40 points and 10 boards in a 134-133 overtime loss to the Wizards.
Yes, the Pacers lost each of their first two games by a single point. That’s only the second time in NBA history that’s happened.
Per the David Woods of the Indianapolis Star: “The other, in 1955, was the Fort Wayne Pistons — who went on to the NBA Finals that season.”
So both times, it’s happened to a team from Indiana.
Carlisle, for one, would like to see the Pacers get away from this habit. In both games, on the road, they have blown leads.
“You don’t want to put yourself in a position where it becomes make or miss, especially on the road,” Carlisle said, via Woods.
No matter, Sabonis, Turner, Malcolm Brogdon, Caris LeVert (when healthy), T.J. Warren (ditto) and rookie Chris Duarte are among the reasons the Pacers have some legitimate hope as a sleeper.
But as Carlisle alluded, the defense will probably have to improve for Indiana to give itself a real chance in these close games.
“The shotmaking now in the league, it’s amazing to watch. Beyond belief, really,” Carlisle said. “You’ve got to absorb that. We’ve got to make it tough on those guys to get good looks, and keep going.”
Other than that, the Pacers can just hope for a better bounce of the ball their way, and maybe some favorable whistles, which generally are more likely to take place at home.
Oh, and more otherworldly performances like the one from Turner vs. the Wizards.
“From a personal standpoint, this is something that I want people to get accustomed to,” Turner said. “I think this is the way I can play, night in and night out. Tonight, it just happened to be my night.
“But as a team, this one hurts.”
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