Indiana Pacers 2018-19 Season Recap
This Indiana Pacers season didn’t quite go as planned. A major injury to the team’s leader Victor Oladipo severely limited the club’s ceiling, though the Pacers fought until the bitter end. Let’s review.
It was expected that Indiana would build off of its gritty series against LeBron’s Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2018 postseason. With Oladipo winning Most Improved Player, things were looking up in Indiana.
In the offseason the Pacers signed Forwards Doug McDermott, Tyreke Evans, and Kyle O’Quinn. Indiana also locked up starting center Myles Turner with a contract extension.
Going into this season, the Pacers were co-favorites to win the Central Division. A lot of people thought the Pacers could expand on their 48 wins from last year.
The Pacers returned all five starters from the previous season. With the acquisitions of Evans, McDermott, and O’Quinn plus rookie guard Aaron Holiday, the expectations were to get a top-four seed in the Eastern conference and win over 50 games.
In the early portion of the season, the Pacers lived up to the expectations. Indiana went 13-9 in the month of December alone. Indiana continued its high level of play into January.
Over that month the Pacers only lost by a total of five points, so they could’ve had a perfect 15-0 month. Everything came crashing down on January 23rd.
The Pacers were playing a pivotal game vs the Toronto Raptors, a game with true seeding implications. Instead, the Pacers season essentially went right down the drain.
Victor Oladipo, the heart and soul of the Indiana Pacers suffered a ruptured quad tendon injury during the middle of the game. Oladipo had been averaging 18.8 points, 5.6 rebounds, 5.2 assists, and 1.7 steals per game before going down with the season-ending injury.
On February 10th, the Pacers signed free agent guard Wesley Matthews. Matthews didn’t start right away but he soon took the starting shooting guard role for the Pacers around the All-Star break.
While many fans believed president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard would go out during All-Star weekend and try to trade for a Shooting Guard, the team stayed pat. Matthews stayed in the starting line-up.
Despite the Oladipo injury, the Pacers were still in a good spot to make the playoffs. What seed they would get was still very much in question. Indiana was the third seed in the East the night Oladipo went down.
The Pacers went about .500 the rest of the way behind tremendous defense. A four seed and thus home court advantage in the opening round of the playoffs was decidedly on the table.
Two pivotal losses to the Celtics at the end of the season erased this possibility. The Pacers entered the postseason as the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference. Even without Oladipo for most of the season, Indiana won 48 games yet again, firmly earning a playoff berth.
In their first-round matchup the Pacers were in every game, and they kept them competitive. One of the differences in the series was the Celtics were able to get clutch shots in clutch moments. The lack of offense killed the Pacers as they were swept out of the first round by the Celtics.
Expectations changed drastically from beginning to end of the season for the Pacers. Losing their best player the Pacers were still able to stay competitive and make the playoffs. Fans and the organization should feel good about how they finished the season with what happened to Oladipo, and know the Pacers will be back.