Pacers preview: Welcoming the Golden State Warriors


Tonight at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, the Indiana Pacers welcome the still undefeated Golden State Warriors with hopes of ending their 22-game streak.

WHO: Indiana Pacers (12-7) v. Golden State Warriors (22-0)
WHEN: Tonight, 7 pm ET / 6 pm CT
WHERE: Bankers Life Fieldhouse (Indianapolis, IN)

RADIO: 1070 the Fan

The Pacers
The biggest test of the season so far, and arguably for the rest of the year, comes tonight when Indiana plays hosts to the Golden State Warriors.

The Pacers dropped a close contest to the Utah Jazz on Saturday, but behind a major 48-point night from Paul George are looking to drive momentum forward.

Indiana has upped their scoring average to 5th in the league after putting up 119 total against Utah, but their field goal percentage has dipped to league average 44.1%. However, the offense won’t be the whole story against the Dubs tonight. Instead, the defense will be the key.

The Pacers are still in the top five in the league on steals per game, but defending the three-point line will be critical. The Warriors are the best distance-shooting team in the league, but the Pacers haven’t been as clinical in limiting their opponent’s ability to hit from that area. The Blue & Gold are in the top 12 in opponent 3PT percentage, but even above average defense won’t be enough tonight.

The Warriors
There is no doubt that Golden State is the best team in the league. They rank first in four offensive categories – points per game, FG%, 3PT FGs, and assists per game – and are also an incredibly efficient defensive team.

The biggest advantage the Dubs have tonight, though, is the playmaking ability of Steph Curry. Drafted seventh overall in the 2009 NBA Draft, Curry has made a career off of mind-blowing distance shots, eye-catching passes and dribbling, and dazzling performances, particularly within the last two years. His ascent to the league’s MVP was a swift one but well deserved.

Curry is the type of player that can hit one shot and have the crowd almost instantaneously believe that it’s over. Nearly every time the Warriors have been in trouble, in comes their savior, their king, Steph Curry. Paul George did an incredible job defending the Davidson alum two years ago at home, but tonight it may be up to a tandem of Georges (George Hill) to get the job done.

Outside of Curry, the Warriors’ offensive arsenal packs a major punch. With Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, and Draymond Green all averaging in double figures in points (Green averages a near double-double), they are incredibly impressive. On top of that, Andre Iguodala comes off the bench as a major impact player.

Even their bigs can cause trouble – Festus Ezeli often getting the nod over the frequently injured Andrew Bogut – but causing damage and leading Golden State to just over six blocks a game, putting them fourth in the league.

Next: Paul George is on a tear and is driving the Pacers success

I feel like tonight can go one of two ways: either the Pacers hang in there and push Golden State towards unchartered waters of a first loss, or the Warriors come in, bang Indiana around down low and knock down their shots from distance to cruise home at a cool 23-0.

More inclined to feel the former will happen, though, as the Pacers are one of the best defensive teams in the league and, on their best night, might be the absolute best. Tons will be asked of everyone involved, but Paul George must lead the way again for Indiana to come out with a win.