The 34-win Philadelphia 76ers team looked energized as they drilled the playoff-bound Indiana Pacers, 105-95, on Wednesday. With the win, the 76ers earned a split with the Pacers for the year. Dorrel Wright led the way for the winners with 23 points
Pacers’ Head Coach Frank Vogel chose to rest Roy Hibbert, Paul George, George Hill, and David West for what was the Pacers’ last regular-season game.
Gerald Green took advantage of the newfound limelight by scoring 34 points on ten of 14 shooting in a losing effort. The forward only averages seven points a game. “I just wanted to come into the game with the mindset of being aggressive,” Green said afterwards.
Tyler Hansborough added ten points and nine rebounds.
Pacers’ reserves tried valiantly to come back from an earlier 26-point deficit, but it was too late. According to the Pacers’ official website, it was the sixth straight game the Pacers had faced a deficit of larger than 20 points. They even got out-rebounded, which is unusual for the best rebounding team in the NBA.
While Vogel’s philosophy of resting players to get them ready for the playoffs is obviously not unusual in professional sports, the larger concern turns to momentum and sharpness in the playoffs. Will they be ready to play? They’ve lost five of their last six games with the only win come against a weak Cleveland Cavaliers’ team.
“I think this team has a great deal of potential to make some serious noise in the playoffs,” Vogel has said, but there will be no easy series for his team. If he’s concerned, he’s not showing it.
Last year’s team went into the playoffs losers of two of their last three, including a loss against the 76ers. That team went on to knock out the Orlando Magic in five games before losing to the eventual champions, the Miami Heat, in six games. Of course, that team also had the luxury of Danny Granger, who is still recovering from knee surgery.
This year’s Pacers begin their first-round, seven-game series against the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday at home, where they went 30-11 during the year.