The Indiana Pacers lost their leading scorer, Victor Oladipo, after he went down with a season-ending knee injury in the second quarter against the Toronto Raptors.
In a battle between two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference, the Pacers (32-15) rallied without Oladipo to hold off the Toronto Raptors (36-14). The Raptors are tied for the top seed in the East. The Pacers are currently holding the #3 seed. They are in second place in the Central Division behind the Greek Freak and the Milwaukee Bucks.
With the Pacers leading 46-38 at 4:07 remaining in the second quarter, Oladipo ran back on defense to defend a fast break. He tried to deflect a pass to Pascal Siakam and landed awkwardly landed on his right left. He fell to the ground with an apparent broken leg. Trainers were waved over as soon as his teammates saw the severity of the injury.
While the medical staff waited to cart Oladipo off the court, they placed a towel over his leg so he would not have to look at the horrific injury.
The Pacers held off a late surge from the Raptors to win 110-106. The Pacers improved to 18-6 at home this season.
This looks really bad. pic.twitter.com/vfUhC5k7X6
— Tony East (@TEastNBA) January 24, 2019
Oladipo played his collegiate ball at Indiana University. He averaged 13.6 points and 6.3 rebounds per game his junior year. Oladipo impressed scouts with his excellent defense. The Orlando Magic drafted him with the second overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft.
Oladipo played three seasons with the Magic and averaged 17.9 points in his second season. The Magic traded him to the Oklahoma City Thunder in a multi-player deal for Serge Ibaka. During his one season with the Thunder, Oladipo averaged 15.9 points during the season, yet struggled in the playoffs with 10.8 points per game.
In 2017, the Thunder traded Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis to the Pacers for Paul George. Oladipo thrived upon his return to Indiana. As an All-Star selecton last season, he averaged a career-high 23.1 points per game. He also added 2.4 steals per game. In the playoffs, he led the Pacers with 22.4 ppg.
This season, Oladipo leads the Pacers in scoring with 18.8 points per game.
On Deck for Pacers
Pat Riley once said, “Injuries are opportunities.” With Oladipo down, expect guards Tyreke Evans (10.9 ppg) and Darren Collison (9.7 ppg) will pick up some of the slack. The Pacers will also rely on swingman Bojan Bogdanovic, the teams second-leading scorer with 16.0 ppg.
“It is a serious injury, and we’ll know more after the MRI,” said Pacers head coach Nate McMillan. “We’re not going to speculate. It’s a tough situation. That kid has a beautiful spirit about him. He has always been one to try and to lift us up. We’ve got to lift him now.”
Earlier this season, Oladipo missed 11 games with a knee bruise. The Pacers stepped up and went on a 7-4 clip without their All-Star point guard.
According to the South Point Casino and Sports Book in Las Vegas, the Indiana Pacers are 80-1 odds to win the NBA championship.