The Indiana Pacers are squarely in the NBA playoff picture, but most fans and analysts aren’t saying much about the team. Star forward Paul George might have the reason why that’s the case, though.
According to Nate Taylor of the Indianapolis Star, George said the Pacers lack toughness, which was on full display after the Portland Trail Blazers clipped Indiana 111-102 on Sunday.
“We don’t have no toughness. There’s no toughness. If you look at playoff teams and teams one through eight, that’s one thing that every team has in common. That’s what we’ve got to find.”
Taylor adds George criticized head coach Frank Vogel’s defensive strategy and also called out the team’s overall lack of effort.
The Pacers opened the season winning 12 of 17 games, but they’ve stumbled through the middle portion of the season and currently sit at 31-28. Not since Dec. 14-18 has Indiana earned three consecutive wins.
What’s really hurting George and Co., though, is inconsistency.
Immediately following the All-Star break, the Pacers toppled the Oklahoma City Thunder on the road. You’d hope a victory like that would serve as the catalyst for a mid-level team. Unfortunately for Indiana, that wasn’t the case.
In the last five games, the Pacers have managed three-point wins over both the Orlando Magic and New York Knicks — a pair of mediocre conference foes — and fallen to the short-handed Miami Heat, decent Charlotte Hornets squad and surging Trail Blazers crew.
But none of those matchups were particularly daunting. Indiana was easily the most talented team in each outing but failed to show it.
Unless George and the Pacers can reverse the trend of inadequate toughness and effort, they’ll be watching the postseason from a couch.