It’s been two weeks since the Indiana Pacers lost, rattling off five straight victories and playing zero teams with a pulse since then. Now the Pacers will try to make it six in a row, but will have to play someone outside the bottom seven in the league as the Golden State Warriors come to town.
The Pacers have yet to play a team at or above .500 since coming back from the All-Star break. Golden State currently sits at 36-24 and sixth in the Western Conference. Their easy schedule is coming to an end, however, as 12 of their remaining 22 games are against teams with records currently above .500. Four of those 12 are against upper echelon teams like the Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs.
This game will be a good test for the Pacers, to see if their mid-season slump has come to an end or not. After going 25-5 to start the year, they’ve gone 21-8 since New Years. How Evan Turner performs tonight will be a nice indication of how he will handle the pressure of playing against better teams, compared to the teams he has played so far as a new member of the Pacers.
Golden State and Indiana have met already once this year with the Pacers walking out of Oracle Arena with a 102-94 victory back in January. And who can forget the last time these two squads squared off in Bankers Life Fieldhouse last year?
The Warriors have the league’s 10th best offense, 103.3 points per game and ninth best defense allowing 98.8 points. That combination could cause issues for the Pacers who own the league’s best defense, 91.2 points allowed, but only the 19th best offense with 99.1 points scored.
Indiana’s key to victory will be limiting Stephen Curry on the offensive end. He leads the Warriors with 24.1 points and 8.8 assists per game. When these two teams met in January, Curry dropped 24 points and when they met last year in Indy he dropped 38.
Luckily the Pacers have an answer for Curry in the form of a reinvigorated Paul George. George hit a slump before the All-Star break, but has come out red hot since then, averaging 25.4 points. And with the “bad man” himself, David West, coming off a 25 point performance against the Utah Jazz and a 17-point, five-rebound performance against the Warriors in January, it would appear the Pacers have enough firepower to outlast Golden State.
Bench play will be a big factor tonight, especially for the Pacers. Turner is averaging 11.5 points and 4.8 rebounds in the four games he played with Indiana. Ian Mahinmi has played better since the acquisition of Andrew Bynum and it appears Luis Scola found his jumper.
With the Pacers seemingly firing on all cylinders again, this game will be a solid test to see where they are against tougher competition. It will be a high scoring affair, coming down to which defense has the better game tonight and we all know what kind of defense you can expect from the Pacers in crunch time.