Sure, the Rockets handed the Pacers their most lopsided loss of the season a few weeks ago, but the Pacers have made some real strides since that night.
For instance, the Pacers are 6-1 since that game and averaging 113 points per game in those wins. During that stretch, they have beaten the (actually really good) Detroit Pistons, (not actually really good) Orlando Magic twice, Toronto Raptors, and shellacked the Miami Heat by 25 in South Beach.
Against the Magic two nights ago, Victor Oladipo hit his first 11 shots on his way to 26 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, and 4 blocks. It’s safe to say that Vic is happy to be back in Indiana.
In that shadow of that transcendent performance, Domantas Sabonis dropped 19/8/5 off the bench in 27 incredibly productive minutes. Man, could you imagine if the Thunder had a couple of awesome players like those two? They could do some special things. #GetRussHelp
Also part of the Indy bench brigade are Cory Joseph and Lance Stephenson. Both were also productive, especially on the glass. In fact, all three reserves had more rebounds than any starter.
It bears mentioning that in that game, Nate McMillan ran an 8-man rotation with every player getting 24 or more minutes of game time. I’m sure that gives Rockets fans PTSD, but in small doses the shortened rotation can really help everyone find their niche. Those extra few minutes on the court can give guys a little more time to find their rhythm and clearly for Indy, it’s working. The rest of Indy’s reserves with the exception of Al Jefferson are a relatively youthful bunch. Oh, and they still have one of the 816 NBA unicorns in Myles Turner.
I know the Rockets look unstoppable right now, but they have mostly feasted on an easy schedule as of late. If there’s a team that can actually beat the Rockets without the benefit of some lucky breaks or a bad shooting night from the Houston snipers, it’s these Indiana Pacers. I know they’re good right now, and as long as they stay healthy they can make some real noise moving forward. This is not going to be a walkover.
Prediction: Empty Toyota Center + red hot opponent =end of Houston’s winning streak
Tip-off is at 7pm CT