The Indiana Pacers have encountered difficulty getting up to speed following the return to the lineup of Victor Oladipo.
After splitting their first two contests following Oladipo’s return from a gruesome ruptured quad tendon, the Pacers look to complete a winning homestand on Monday when they host the Dallas Mavericks in Indianapolis.
Oladipo has yet to find his range while adjusting to inconsistent playing time, making just 4 of 22 shots — including 2 of 11 from beyond the arc. Indiana was able to overcome the All-Star’s 2-for-8 effort in Wednesday’s 115-106 overtime win versus Chicago, however the team’s 11-point first quarter three nights later did it no favors in a 92-85 setback to the New York Knicks.
“We’re still trying to figure each other out,” Oladipo said. “Obviously, I’m still trying to get my rhythm. I’ve been out a year, so coming off the bench, playing limited minutes, is new so I have to get used to that and just get used to the flow of the game again.”
Center Myles Turner said he isn’t panicking after the team has dropped two of three following a 7-1 spurt.
“We just have to keep rolling, just stay the course,” Turner said. “It’s that time of the year. We, obviously, have a healthy roster now so it’s going to take some time to acclimate, bringing Vic back in, different types of lineups. We have time to figure it out, but we can’t come with too many excuses. We have to go out there and get it done.”
The Mavericks likely aren’t inclined to listen to any excuses, considering they are without All-Star Luka Doncic for at least another week with a sprained right ankle. Doncic averages team-leading totals in points (28.8), rebounds (9.5) and assists (8.7).
Dallas, however, overcame the absence of both Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis (rest) in a 123-100 victory over Atlanta on Saturday.
Jalen Brunson started in place of Doncic and scored a season-high 27 points. The 23-year-old contributed defensively by keeping Trae Young under wraps, limiting the Hawks All-Star guard to just 12 points on 4-of-13 shooting from the floor.
“It’s a terrific roster, very deep, a lot of versatility, a lot of flexibility,” Rick Carlisle said after recording his 500th win as the coach of the Mavericks.
“Obviously, (Saturday) that was very important with Luka not playing and KP out. We said before the game (the Hawks) can score in their sleep and we really have to make a stand and find a way to slow them.”
Dallas will need to keep tabs on 6-foot-11 Domantas Sabonis, who averages team-best totals in points (18.2) and rebounds (12.7). The 23-year-old collected 16 points and 11 boards in the Pacers’ 111-99 victory over the Mavericks on Jan. 19, 2019.
While Indiana began Saturday’s game with a healthy roster for the first time all season, it didn’t finish the contest in the same manner.
T.J. Warren, who averages 18.1 points per game, sustained what the team labeled a “head injury” following a fall late in the third quarter. He was taken to a local hospital for evaluation and his status for Monday’s game is in question.
–Field Level Media