After being smacked around and suffering the worst loss of the season in Phoenix, the Indiana Pacers continue their Western Conference road trip in Sacramento. Despite the loss, the Pacers still have the best record in the NBA at 33-8.
Fans might be worried after the most recent loss. The Pacers gave up a startlingly high shooting percentage at 54-percent and an even worse 68.8-percent from the three point line. The Suns also have two players, Gerald Green and Miles Plumlee, who were with the Pacers last season. It was the second game in three nights while on the road. The Pacers will have a chance to avenge this loss awfully soon as the Suns come to Indianapolis on January 30th.
Even if Indiana drops that game as well, the Pacers won’t see Phoenix again this season. Unless they somehow shock the world and make the NBA Finals.
Looking at Losses
The Pacers have just eight losses this season at the halfway point. More impressively, they have just one loss at home (against Detroit).
Only three of the Pacers losses have not come on the back end of a back-to-back. They have also only been beaten by double digits five times, with only four of those really constituting a blowout: at Chicago (with Derrick Rose), at Oklahoma City, at Toronto, at Phoenix.
All of those games were on the road. Three of them were off back-to-backs and three of them saw the opponent shoot above 50-percent. They also featured a player (or players) who got so hot they became unguardable.
So why shouldn’t fans panic? Well, right now the Pacers have home court advantage over everyone else in the NBA. This team needs the advantage more than anyone else in the league as they can flip a switch when the crowd gets engaged that turns a small lead into a rout.
There won’t be any back-to-back games in the playoffs. Every team struggles on the back end of a back-to-back, especially on the road. The Pacers have just eight more back-to-backs, but six of those games on the back end are on the road.
The Pacers will only have to face one of the Western Conference juggernauts, assuming they make the finals. The West side of the NBA Playoffs is going to be absolutely brutal. There are a lot of very talented teams in the playoffs right now…in the Western Conference. The East is a vast wasteland of mostly sub-.5oo teams. Whoever makes the finals from the West is going to exhausted.
Every team suffers some bad losses. The Pacers are no exception.
Indiana Pacers at Sacramento Kings
Jan. 24th – 10PM FSMW
The Kings are 15-23 and just 9-13 at home this season. Just 10 days ago the Pacers dominated this team at home, winning by 24. Sacramento is just 2-3 since the loss at Indiana, but wins aren’t the only thing that’s missing.
The Kings will likely be without starters Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins Friday night. Both players are listed as day-to-day with a Achilles and ankle injuries respectively. They lose their two leading scorers with Gay and Cousins who accounting for nearly 43 points per game between each other.
Cousins also leads the team in rebounding, steals, and blocks. The injuries occurred early in a 21 point loss to the Houston Rockets Wednesday night.
Cousins had 31 points and 13 rebounds against the Pacers on January 14th and Gay was the only other player to score in the double digits, finishing with 12.
The Pacers have had some injuries as well. George Hill played through a hip injury on Wednesday and David West appeared to re-injure his hand against the Suns, but came back after leaving the game. While both are listed as day-to-day, they are expected to play.
Even if Gay and Cousins play, the Pacers will still run away with this game. The Kings are still in total rebuild mode and struggling to find wins. Its unlikely that Indiana will win by 24 again, but this will still be a solid double-digit victory. The Kings won’t have enough firepower in the paint to win or the outside shooting to make defending them all that difficult.
A fired up Pacers squad looking for a rebound win is a dangerous thing. This team is too well coached to drop back-to-back games again. The Pacers win before heading to Denver for Saturday nights game.