Struggling is one thing. The Indiana Pacers, who visit the Miami Heat on Wednesday night, appear to be unraveling.
With 12 losses in their past 14 games, the Pacers are -- or should be -- in panic mode.
There is good news for the Pacers, however, in the form of Tyrese Haliburton.
The standout guard leads the Pacers in scoring (20.0) and tops the league in assists (10.3). The third-year pro is shooting 87.0 percent from the foul line, and he has a career mark of 40.6 percent on 3-pointers.
A first-time All-Star this season, Haliburton also impressed Lakers stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis last week when Indiana lost to the Lakers, 112-111.
"He's the head of the snake," Davis said after Haliburton posted 26 points and a game-high 12 assists against Los Angeles.
The Pacers are 1-2 since Haliburton returned from knee and elbow injuries that cost him 10 games. The Pacers went 1-9 without him.
Indiana had gone 8-2 prior to this poor stretch and hopes to soar again with Haliburton back in the fold.
Myles Turner leads Indiana in rebounds (8.1) and blocks (2.4) and ranks second in scoring (17.7).
Buddy Hield and Bennedict Mathurin are Indiana's other double-figure scorers, both averaging 17.4 points.
Hield scored 21 points in Indiana's most recent win, a 107-104 home victory over Sacramento on Friday.
"He made some big shots down the stretch," Turner said of Hield.
Mathurin, a rookie from Montreal who is of Haitian ancestry, is Indiana's top reserve. The No. 6 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft out of Arizona, he does not lack for confidence, and one of his favorite players has long been Miami star Jimmy Butler.
Butler is coming off a 32-point performance in Saturday's 123-115 loss at the Milwaukee Bucks.
The loss completed a 1-3 Heat road trip.
"We're going home disappointed," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "It's hard to win on the road. But we will gather ourselves."
By game time, the Heat will have had three full days off. That time was needed, because Miami had only nine healthy players against Milwaukee.
Among others, the Heat played without starting point guard Kyle Lowry (sore left knee) and key reserve Victor Oladipo (sprained right ankle).
Both players will sit out again on Wednesday.
For the season, Butler leads Miami in scoring (21.9) and steals (2.1). Bam Adebayo leads Miami in rebounds (10.0) and blocks (0.8), ranking second in scoring (21.5). Tyler Herro is third on the Heat in scoring (20.4) and in assists (4.5). Lowry leads the Heat in assists (5.3).
A positive factor for the Heat entering Wednesday's game is the squad's home record. While they have struggled on the road (12-16), the Heat are 17-9 at home.
Indiana is just 8-18 on the road.
The Pacers, though, are 2-1 against the Heat this season, including a 111-108 win at Miami in their most recent matchup on Dec. 23. Haliburton scored a career-high 43 points in that game. Herro led Miami with 28.
--Field Level Media