The final Friday night of the NBA’s regular season has come and gone, and it featured a game that quickly got out of hand in South Beach.
In part four of the league’s most entertaining rivalry, the Indiana Pacers competed with LeBron James and the Miami Heat for two quarters — the first half — before falling flat on their face. After taking a 45-42 deficit into halftime, Indiana’s offense hit a brick wall in the third quarter. The Pacers shot just 7-of-18 in the third, while committing careless turnovers to allow a 20-4 opening run for Miami. That was all the Heat, which shot 61 percent in the third en route to 31-point quarter, needed to blow the game wide open.
Miami’s lead swelled to 23 points behind fast break chaos that resulted from Indiana’s 16 total turnovers, an area that has been one of the Pacers’ many negatives for most of the 80 games played.
“We stalled out in the third,” David West said following the 12-point loss. “Just didn’t make enough plays to stay in it. We know we can’t turn the ball over against them, which we did.”
Even more disheartening for the Pacers than tasting defeat yet again on the floor of American Airlines Arena, is the fact that they lost control of the Eastern Conference’s top seed. Miami, now leading by 1/2 game, can win their final three matchups — Atlanta, Washington, Philadelphia — and lock up homecourt advantage for the first three round of the playoffs.
For Indiana, it’s been a train wreck since the beginning of March, and you could even trace their struggles further beyond that. Offensive execution is becoming a term the starting lineup is foreign to, and Roy Hibbert is certainly proving his case to be a top five center in today’s game.
Throughout their regular season — which includes two remaining games (vs. Oklahoma City, at Orlando) — the Pacers have been and up and down group of guys that seem to have lost their way. Of course, there are always numbers to go with every case in sports.
Let’s put together the five numbers that appropriately describe the Pacers’ 2013-14 season. Some may not be pleasant, so click at your own risk.