Thunder (55-20, 22-15 road) at Pacers (48-27, 29-8 home)
Offensive Rating: Thunder – 112.3 (2nd), Pacers– 104.6 (19th)
Defensive Rating: Thunder – 102.6 (5th), Pacers – 98.9 (1st)
Pace: Thunder – 93.6 (8th), Pacers – 90.1 (25th)
View from the enemy: 8 Points, 9 Seconds
Considering the circumstances, this might just be the Thunder’s most challenging game of the season. Just some 20 hours ago, they were putting the finishing touches on a big win against the Spurs. Then they hopped on a plane, lost an hour crossing timezones and ended up in Indianapolis around 4 a.m And to make it all that much more difficult, they’re playing the rugged Pacers, maybe the toughest most physical team in the league.
The Thunder put in a great effort last night to secure their destiny for the top seed in the West, which is great, but it just means they could hand that destiny back to the Spurs tonight. It’s a really tough test for OKC, and one that I think they’re actually up for. KD played 45 minutes last night and they obviously sunk a lot into winning that game, but these guys just had four days off and heavy legs really haven’t ever been a big problem in the past.
Indiana coming in: Took down the Clippers on Monday in LA.
Three Big Things
1. O vs D. The Pacers have the best defense in basketball. And the Thunder’s offense is top two. So that’s a pretty monumental clash of advanced statistics.
2. Interior. The Pacers are big inside with Roy Hibbert and David West, and really try to hammer people down low. The Thunder aren’t to shabby with their bigs, but it’ll be a test for Serge Ibaka. He’s got to match the physicality of the Pacers, but stay within himself and not get too carried away. Bottle the intensity, and play big, literally.
3. Kevin Martin. He failed to show up against the Spurs, and I doubt think we can count on Derek Fisher bailing him out again. He needs to contribute, he needs to score. Get in an aggressive rhythm early, attack the rim some and take smart shots.
Tip at 7:00 CT. Go Rumbles.