The Indiana Pacers finally got in the win column for the 2019-20 NBA season, beating the Brooklyn Nets 118-108 on Wednesday night. Unfortunately, the Pacers lost starting center Myles Turner to an ankle injury early in the victory.
The Pacers will also be without reserve guard Edmond Sumner for at least three weeks with a right hand injury. With Victor Oladipo still recovering from his knee injury, an already thin Indiana roster is getting even thinner amid a disappointing 1-3 start to the season.
The Pacers will obviously miss what Turner brings to the table for however long he’s out. He was a top Defensive Player of the Year candidate last season, and he was hoping to make a leap on the offensive end this season. The 23-year-old scored 25 points in Indiana’s season opener and is averaging 14.8 points on 55.0% shooting overall and 53.3% on 3-pointers in this small sample size to begin the season.
With Turner sidelined, more pressure will be on Domantas Sabonis and the other Pacers starters. Baby Sabonis has been terrific to start the season after inking a long-term extension with the club, averaging 22.8 points, 10.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists while shooting 56.3% from the field. He has put up similar numbers when not sharing the floor with Turner:
Sabonis' per-36 stats without Myles on the floor this season (55 minutes): 23.1 points, 9.9 boards, 3.3 dimes, 0.7 blocks and 0.7 treys.
Prior to last night, Malcolm Brogdon only had two minutes on the floor without Myles next to him.
— Michael Gallagher (@MikeSGallagher) October 31, 2019
Indiana has other capable offensive threats in Malcolm Brogdon, T.J. Warren and Jeremy Lamb, but the lack of depth is an issue with these injuries piling up. The Pacers’ bench is last in the NBA in scoring, and there are no proven big men in reserve.
Rookie Goga Bitadze was called into action against the Nets, but his nine minutes were disastrous. He had zero points, one rebound, one assist and one block, while Indiana was outscored by 16 points in his time on the court.
T.J. Leaf, Alize Johnson and JaKarr Sampson are all forwards at the end of the roster who could potentially be thrust into action. It would be nice to see Leaf show anything in his third season after barely playing in his first two seasons, but expectations should be low. Simply playing smaller more is also an option.
The Pacers likely won’t look outside the roster given the apparent short-term nature of Turner’s injury. Indiana already has 15 guaranteed contracts and two two-way players, so the roster is full anyway. It’s not worth making some type of drastic move right now.
Indiana has a good opportunity to stay afloat even with these injury woes. The upcoming schedule isn’t exactly a murderer’s row, with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Chicago Bulls, Charlotte Hornets and Washington Wizards coming up over the next week. After that comes the Detroit Pistons, Orlando Magic and Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Pacers will have to dig deep and must avoid letdowns, but Nate McMillan’s squad can survive this.