OKC Thunder (10-5, 5-1 road) at Indiana Pacers (7-6, 4-4 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 109.0 (7th), Pacers – 105.9 (18th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 109.4 (22nd), Pacers – 101.5 (5th)
Pace: Thunder – 93.3 (14th), Pacers – 94.2 (12th)
View from the enemy: Eight Points, Nine Seconds
Time for a nice little bounce-back win against the Pacers. That’s what you’re thinking. That’s what I’m thinking. Problem is, these Pacers aren’t that bad. In fact, they have a better winning percentage than the Miami Heat.
Indiana has gotten to a game over .500 by playing extremely solid defense, ranking in the top five in efficiency. They work hard, rotate well and play extremely solid in straight man-to-man situations. They like to win with scores in the 90s, so either Oklahoma City needs to tighten things up defensively or get ready to score over a hundred.
Indiana coming in: The Pacers have won two straight and last played Tuesday against the Cavs. Indiana is a solid home team, and has won four of six overall.
If it weren’t for foul trouble, Roy Hibbert would have fantastic numbers against the Thunder. He’s played extremely well inside, but he seems to pick up an early fourth foul early on in the second half. A lot of that is because OKC has tough players to guard for Hibbert because of the versatility.
Darren Collison and Russell Westbrook will be a fun matchup, and a key one as well. Collison is what makes the Pacer offense go in setting up shooters and creating space for driving lanes. Westbrook has to stay within himself and limit Collison’s penetration and keep him from dishing for easy buckets.
Indiana can obviously shoot as evidenced by that massive third quarter against the Nuggets earlier in the month, so closing out on shooters is key. Players like Danny Granger, Mike Dunleavy and Brandon Rush can all fire away, so fighting through screens and sticking with shooters is important.
Granger isn’t a great defender and doesn’t have the ideal length and size to defend Durant, but he’s a hard worker and will make KD work on defensively as well. Indiana starts Josh McRoberts inside and while that might sound funny, he’s actually been somewhat productive. So Jeff Green, Nick Collison and Serge Ibaka can’t sleep on the Pacers interior unit.
This is a big chance to bounce back and not the kind of game OKC should take lightly at all. It’s going to require a lot of energy and a lot of focus. The Thunder’s played well on the road thus far, but this is just the type of game that feels like OKC could be asleep for a half in.
Tip at 7:00 CT. Go Black Thunder.