You had to know Paul George's frustration would come out sooner or later. The new-look Indiana Pacers have started the season out of sync, defensively inept and searching for answers. After a 122-100 loss to the Charlotte Hornets on Monday, George voiced his concerns.
"We're all out of whack," George said, via the Indianapolis Star's Nate Taylor. "There's no trust, there's no chemistry, there's no belief. We're kind of just lifeless right now."
George is not exaggerating. The Pacers have lost to the Brooklyn Nets and been blown out by the Chicago Bulls and Milwaukee Bucks. His comments came after they let the Hornets score 75 points in the first half, allowed 35 points off 18 turnovers and could not contain guard Kemba Walker at all.
Walker finished with 24 points on 7-for-11 shooting, plus 10 assists in just 25 minutes. He dominated Indiana guard Jeff Teague, who has had a miserable start to the season offensively while proving to be a significant defensive downgrade from George Hill.
Teague is shooting just 32.5 percent and 23.1 percent from 3-point range. Those awful numbers have to get better, but a few more made shots won't necessarily make him complement Monta Ellis that much better. The backcourt is a real concern, as is the overall team defense. For essentially all of George's career, Indiana has been a smart, physical and defensive-minded team. That identity appears to be gone now, and as incredible as George is as an individual defender, he cannot bring it back by himself.
It would not be fair to pin all of this on new coach Nate McMillan, who was given an edict to push the ball and play a more exciting style. There is no easy answer for the Pacers' woes when it comes to containing perimeter players and protecting the paint. At some point, though, maybe he should give C.J. Miles a shot at starting over Ellis. Miles has been one of the few bright spots for Indiana this season, shooting 54.7 percent and 51.4 percent from deep, and his size would give the Pacers more defensive versatility in the starting lineup. Of course, that could also make the weak bench even weaker.
The good news: Their next two games are a home-and-home against the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday and Friday. The bad news: Their schedule has been pretty soft up to this point, and that hasn't seemed to matter.