Indiana off to sluggish 3-6 start

The Indiana Pacers are 3-6, and as many have pointed out on Twitter, most believed the 6-3 Colts would be the ones owning the 3-6 record after nine games. It’s not like the Pacers have run some sort of elite team gauntlet; the combined record of their opponents through Wednesday’s games was 30-38. Worst of all: Danny Granger — there’s still plenty of time to jump back on his personal bandwagon — is out until at least mid-February. Here are two observations and two suggestions to curtail Indiana’s woes:

Observation: The fall of Roy

It’s unfair to single out one player on a team-wide descent, but Roy Hibbert has gone from All-Star to also-ran quicker than the ink dried on the four-year, $58 million contract he signed in July. All of Hibbert’s numbers are down from a year ago, but the two that stick out are field goal percentage and free throw attempts. Before this season, the 7-2 Hibbert had never shot less than 46.1 percent from the field; he’s currently shooting 38.6 percent. Worse, he’s averaging 1.7 free throw attempts per game — less than backup center Ian Mahimi. Now, Hibbert doesn’t normally spend much time at the charity stripe — his career-high in free throw attempts per game was 3.7 last season — but after averaging a double-double and three blocks a game last postseason, many expected to see that same rim landlord return this fall. It hasn’t happened. The best way to reestablish Hibbert would be to involve him in the minute details of the offense. Bring him out on the perimeter to help initiate plays and set more screens. Let him work from the high post. And implore the wings to cut through the lane to utilize Hibbert’s passing acumen.

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