The Indiana Pacers juggernaut season rolls on as they post another perfect week. The Pacers have won their last four games, each by double digits and improved to 32-7.
None of this past week’s games were close as Indiana drubbed Sacramento, New York, and the Los Angeles Clippers. The Pacers won by an average margin of 22 points last week.
A resurgent Paul George led the way for Indiana and earned the Eastern Conference Player of the Week award. George averaged nearly 31 points per game last week while playing tight defense on opponents leading scorer. George credited his defense for leading to a strong offensive showing.
“Anytime my defense is going, my offense starts to click and starts to get rolling,” George said. “So, I think it’s the defense time and time out, having to guard the best players and the best shooter and the toughest guys in this league is what I get impressed with myself.” (via Candace Buckner)
To illustrate his point, George capped off the week with a steal that turned in the a 360 dunk on a fast break.
That dunk is simply unreal. That sort of flair is reserved for the Dunk Contest at All-Star Weekend and is incredibly rare to see in a game. What we have seen this week is how dominant this team can be when George is playing at a high level. If he continues to play this way during the upcoming road trip, the Pacers will be looking at a lengthy win-streak.
Lance Stephenson should be a starter in the All-Star game. He is playing at an incredibly high level right now and has clearly outplayed players like Dwayne Wade and Joe Johnson this season. He leads the league in triple doubles and is the facilitator for the Pacers on the court.
He averaged 24 points last week to go along with seven rebounds, and 5.3 assists per game. The one game Stephenson sat out, the Pacers lost and looked stagnant on offense. He is crucial for his team’s success and there are few players more deserving of a spot on the All-Star roster.
The big takeaway from this past week is simply how impressive the Pacers defense can be. They held opponents to 92, 89, and 92 points. The Clippers were one of the teams held to 92 points, but average 105 a game this season. When the Pacers go on a big 10+ point run, as they are akin to do, it is always keyed off by a defensive play.
The Pacers still have the top rated defense in the NBA in terms of points allowed and efficiency. The best part of having a top tier defense is that it keeps the Pacers in games when the offense isn’t clicking. Good defense leads to big offensive plays, and this team is no exception.
Bankers Life Fieldhouse
Homecourt advantage can’t be discounted for this team either. The Pacers have a league best 21-1 home record. They currently have a 3.5 game lead over the Heat in the East and a one game lead over the Spurs for best record in the league. Homecourt is incredibly important for the Pacers once the playoffs start. The Pacers continue to sellout games as the fans have flocked back to a team they abandoned in the mid-2000s.
The Pacers leave Indiana for another Western Conference road trip. This five game trip won’t be nearly as brutal as the last one as the Pacers face just two teams with a record above .500. There is also just one back-to-back game on this trip.
Indiana Pacers at Golden State Warriors
Jan. 20th – 10:30PM TNT
The Warriors are currently sixth in the West with a 26-16 record. The Pacers are 1-2 on the road in January and 11-6 overall on the road. Golden State had ridden a 10 game winning streak before going 2-3 over their last five games. The Warriors check in with the 11th ranked defense, giving up 99 points per game, and the 9th ranked offense at 104 points per game.
The last time these two teams met, it resulted in a scuffle at BLF. Roy Hibbert and David Lee got into it, resulting in a lot of shoving and a pile of NBA players that nearly spilled into the stands. It could have been an isolated incident, Lee appeared to shove Hibbert to get position for a rebound and Hibbert retaliated, but we’ve seen grudges carry over (against the Clippers).
The Warriors are led by point guard Stephen Curry who is averaging 23.5 points per game and 9.2 assists. He is also managing 4.6 rebounds. Stopping Curry is the Pacers top priority. The problem here is that George doesn’t matchup against Curry and it will be on George Hill to keep him in check. That isn’t to say Hill is a bad defender, but this is a tough task for him (or anyone else).
Goal number one will be keeping Curry away from the three point line. No one takes more attempts than Curry, but he’s hitting just 38-percent of those attempts. The problem is that he can get hot at a moments notice.
The Warriors have a bad tendency to turn the ball over regularly. They average nearly 17 turnovers per game, and against an opportunistic defense like the Pacers that is bad news. Despite the showy offense, the Warriors defense has had more to do with the team’s record.
This will likely be a defensive battle with the Warriors looking to get out and run. If the Pacers can keep this game in the half court set, they’ll run away with a win.
Its hard to bet against the Pacers in this one. They haven’t had much luck at Golden State in recent years, but with the offense finally clicking and the defense still playing at a high level Indiana will notch another win on the road.
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