Insider: Pacers hit reset button with 'training camp' style practice during four-game skid

·3 min read

INDIANAPOLIS — After the Pacers fell 113-104 to the Heat on Friday at Gainbridge Fieldhouse, arguably their worst loss of the season, they had an on off day Saturday before returning to work for a "training camp" style practice Sunday.

Malcolm Brogdon, who struggled in his team's fourth straight loss with 14 points on 4-of-14 shooting, said it was good for his squad to have some time to hit the reset button before hosting the Wizards on Monday.

Indiana Pacers forward Domantas Sabonis (11) yells after missing a rebound during the first half of a game Friday, Dec. 3, 2021 at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The Miami Heat defeated the Indiana Pacers 113-104.
Indiana Pacers forward Domantas Sabonis (11) yells after missing a rebound during the first half of a game Friday, Dec. 3, 2021 at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The Miami Heat defeated the Indiana Pacers 113-104.

"I thought we had a great practice (Sunday)," Brogdon said. "It was honestly like a training camp practice. We went hard (Sunday), and I think that's what we needed. We just gotta come out and compete, man. We gotta play with desperation on a high level."

So, what exactly does a mid-season training camp practice consist of?

"Real work on basics, real work on conditioning, real work on hard play, real work on skill development," Indiana coach Rick Carlisle said. "The way the schedule is these days, these quality practice days aren't nearly as frequent as they were back in the old days of the (Eastern Conference) Central Division where you had a lot of back-to-backs but they were short travel back-to-backs. And then they would yield a lot of two-day breaks where you can have an off day, a quality practice day and then a game. But everybody's adjusting to the reality's of today's game and this is just one of those opportunities we gotta take advantage of."

This is only the second time this season the Pacers have had two days off between games and the first time it's happened at home. The other time Indiana had a two-day break was during a four-game West Coast road trip last month.

Kelan Martin, who still trained Saturday at the team's practice facility, said it felt good to wake up in his own bed.

"Usually on my days off I come in and get some work in, just try to stay consistent with my game, but rest does help," Martin said. "Especially being at home and not being at a hotel, but actually being at home and enjoying it."

Martin is averaging 5.3 points while shooting 40.9% from the field and 1-of-10 on 3-pointers during Indiana's four-game losing steak. The former Butler star remains confident in his game and his team, noting that the 9-16 Pacers "know how well we can play."

Carlisle has said on multiple occasions that his team has lacked "force," resulting in some underwhelming performances. Brogdon believes that issue has more to do with focus rather than effort.

"I think it's more about locking into the details of the game, being more physical on defense," Brogdon said. "Honestly, we're a team that plays hard. It's not like we're not out here playing hard. So anybody who says that is wrong. It's literally about the details, knowing your personnel. That's what it comes down to for us."

Domantas Sabonis, who had 14 points and 16 rebounds against the Heat, agreed with Brogdon that the solution to the Pacers' problems isn't simply to play harder. However, he admitted that at times his team "looks dead out there" when he's reviewing game film.

After an intense practice at the Ascension St. Vincent Center on Sunday, Sabonis said Indiana plans to carry that energy across the street to Gainbridge Fieldhouse on Monday.

"Our record doesn't show how we feel about (losing)," Sabonis said. "It definitely sucks, but we feel like we're there, we can compete with anyone, we can win these games. But we're just not doing it. It's a tough one. We're out here trying to get better and improve on that and trying to turn the page."

Follow IndyStar Pacers beat writer James Boyd on Twitter: @RomeovilleKid. Reach him via email: jboyd1@gannett.com.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Pacers hit reset button with "training camp" style practice

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