The Indiana Pacers aren’t kidding themselves. They knew they’d struggle without their leading scorer. What team wouldn’t? However, they didn’t expect that a neutralized Victor Oladipo would have such a profound negative effect on their effort, energy and intensity over the past three games, all losses. That, more than anything else, has been the biggest cause for concern inside the locker room. “I’m not surprised,” coach Nate McMillan said when asked about the gravity of the impact Oladipo’s absence has had. “I think anybody in the rotation -- certainly a guy who has had an impact on a team early like he has -- you have a tendency to miss. (But) you don’t expect it to feel as it has.” How it’s felt, or at least how it’s looked from the outside, is that the Pacers are overmatched without their star guard. They’ve not only lost three straight games without him -- he'll miss Wednesday's game at Milwaukee too -- but they’ve also posted their second- and third-lowest scoring outputs of the season, 90 against Minnesota and 94 against Dallas -- neither known for its suffocating defense. Among Indiana’s biggest problems has been digging themselves early holes, an issue that persisted even with Oladipo healthy. However, without their star guard in the lineup, the Pacers have been unable to climb out of those big holes as had become a staple of their early-season success. “He was doing a lot for us, as far as scoring and leading transition and bringing a kind of leadership role and energy that our guys feed off of,” McMillan said Tuesday. “You know, it’s not only the fans (he engerizes) with his playmaking.” Following the 107-90 walloping at the hands of the Timberwolves on Sunday, veteran big man Al Jefferson scolded his teammates, saying there was “just no effort, at all.” On Tuesday after practice, Myles Turner doubled down on Jefferson’s comments.
0-3 without Victor Oladipo, Pacers struggling to find answers
Indianapolis Star | Jan 2