It was just seven days ago when the Indiana Pacers last played the Phoenix Suns in what would become arguably their worst loss of the season. The Suns torched the Pacers for 124 points, the most any team has scored on Indiana this year, and won by 24. But tonight the Suns are in Indy and there is no place tougher to play than Bankers Life Fieldhouse this year.
In their last meeting, the Suns’ Miles Plumlee and Gerald Green – both former Pacers – decided to make the Pacers pay for trading them in the offseason. Plumlee scored 11 points and grabbed seven rebounds while Green looked unstoppable, scoring 23 points on 6-of-13 shooting, including 3-of-5 from three-point range. He even nearly posterized Roy Hibbert at one point.
As a team, the Suns shot lights out against the league’s best defense. It would be tough to imagine them shooting 68.8 percent from three-point range and 54.2 percent overall on the Pacers home court.
For the Pacers, this will be their first home game in 12 days. They wrapped up their five-game West Coast trip with a win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night. While the road hasn’t been too kind to them this year – 14-8 record on the road – they’ve been nearly unstoppable at home. At 21-1, and winners of 10 straight at home, the Pacers have taken home court advantage to a whole new level this year.
KEYS TO THE GAME
Indiana’s defense finally showed up against the Lakers after allowing 109.5 points per game in the first four games of the West Coast trip. That was 20 points more than they were allowing on the season when the road trip began.They will need to keep that defense going tonight against a run-and-gun Suns team, the kind of team that typically gives them fits.
At home, the Pacers allow league-lows in field goal percentage (39 percent), three-point percentage (29.3 percent), assists (15.1 per game) and points (83.7 per game). Even their point differential is a staggering -15.7.
Home Court Advantage
The Pacers home crowd will also be a huge advantage. With the team playing so well, they have been able to sellout 14 of the 22 home games thus far. Add in the 12 days since they last played at home, plus the first home game since Paul George was announced as an Easter Conference All-Star starter, and you can formulate a guess as to how amped up the crowd will be.
Suns Three-Point Shooting
For the Suns to become the first team to beat the Pacers twice this season, they will need to shoot lights out again. As previously noted the Pacers defense is a monster at home, against anyone, so Phoenix will need a gameplan that revolves around getting Indiana’s big men, Hibbert and David West, into foul trouble early. Doing so will open up the paint, making it easier for Goran Dragic and Gerald Green to drive, which in turn would open up their three-point game.
Phoenix shoots 35.1 percent from three-point range on the road. They will need to get closer to 40 percent if they want a chance at beating the Pacers.
It’s impossible to pick against the Pacers at home and it’s not going to start now. Being embarrassed on ESPN last time and being back home in front of a “turnt up” crowd will be enough to send the Pacers to a 105-90 victory.