Indiana Pacers (9-9)
Portland Trailblazers (8-10)
Last night, the Pacers put together a tough and gritty win. Perhaps their best win of the season since it let them jump to the top of the division, and they took care of business against division rival, Chicago Bulls. But how they follow up tonight could be even more important. Do they come out with a fire that lets them show they are ready to make this turn towards a direction of winning? Or do they jump backwards and lose a game at home that they probably should win?
The Pacers need to rely on their defense to slow down the scoring of LaMarcus Aldridge, who is averaging 23 points, after missing the first game of the Blazer’s current road trip. Damian Lillard will be a tough guy to cover as well with his own 19 points per game. They will need to be slowed down for the Pacers to hold their own in this game.
The Blazers will look to stop Paul George who got his game right last night and practically put the Pacers on his back with 34 points against the Bulls. He must have got that letter I sent him to state that he should be looking for his shot more and become more aggressive with the ball. How he responds tonight could say a lot about whether Paul George is ready to become a more consistent player. We know he can score as he’s had 37 points, but followed it up with 15 points the next game. I think with this one that could be a scoring affair, George might have to get 20 or more.
Defense could be what wins the game for the Pacers. We saw Roy Hibbert put a late game block on Luol Deng that sealed the win for the Pacers. How often has this Pacers team be known for their defense? But this season, they are showing that is the way they will win games. They are holding opponents to around 90 points a game. They are also leading the league in rebounding even after being out rebounded the past few games. Time to get that back in the Pacers’ favor and let the home crowd get the Pacers that energy they need. I think the Pacers come out ready for this game, and win by double digits.