Okla. City Thunder (42-25, 20-14 road) at Indiana Pacers (23-46, 16-16 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 107.2 (16th), Pacers – 102.2 (28th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 103.2 (6th), Pacers – 107.3 (17th)
Pace: Thunder – 92.9 (14th), Pacers – 97.4 (2nd)
View from the enemy: Eight Points, Nine Seconds
A bunch of the team went to a Jay Z concert in Indianapolis last night, so combine that with the unusual 1:30 CDT start time and I fear for some sleepwalking through the first quarter or so. The good news is that you might be able to get away with a quarter of that against the Pacers.
Obviously the Thunder was clicking offensively in Toronto Friday so a little carryover in Indiana would surely be excellent. And that’s definitely a possibility as the Pacers aren’t a strong defensive team. But they can beat just about anyone because they can shoot the 3, Danny Granger is capable of taking over a game and Roy Hibbert is solid inside. But overall, the Pacers are pretty poor offensively, so if the Thunder brings their typical defensive energy, it could be a struggle for Indiana to score points.
Indiana coming in: The Pacers most recently played Friday night at home, beating Detroit. Indiana has played solid basketball the last week, winning two of three (including a win over Charlotte) and playing the Cavs tough in Cleveland.
In the first and only other meeting against Indiana, Roy Hibbert was playing well inside, controlling the glass and scoring in the post. Then Oklahoma City’s athletic big men brought him out on the perimeter a little and Hibbert picked up some fouls and only played 15 minutes. Hibbert is a good center, but he’s slow and not very athletic. Which is exactly the opposite of what the Thunder brings inside. Jeff Green, Serge Ibaka and even Nick Collison and Nenad Krstic could potentially frustrate Hibbert quite a bit.
Kevin Durant scored 40 points on just 18 shots in the first meeting, and really took over the game in the fourth quarter. Danny Granger mainly defended him and while Granger is a good player, Durant’s length gave him the ability to get any shot he wanted. Likewise, Granger scored 25, but on just 6-21 shooting. Though in fairness, it was his first game back from injury.
Troy Murphy is a tough match inside because he can step outside and he’s a good rebounder. That’s probably Indiana’s biggest advantage. But the Pacers start Luther Head and Earl Watson at the guard positions, giving OKC a pretty good edge in the backcourt. A.J. Price shot the Pacers back in the game last time, but he hasn’t been playing at a very high level lately. So the Pacer bench isn’t especially strong, though Mike Dunleavy Jr. can certainly get hot from outside and hit three or four from deep.
The Thunder completely controlled the first matchup but fell asleep late and nearly let the Pacers steal one. And in their place where they’re .500, this could be a bit of a trap. Especially if OKC doesn’t bring early focus in it.
Tip at 1:30 CDT. Go Russell Westbrook and Jeff Green and Kevin Durant and Thabo Sefolosha and…