Indiana Pacers (6-0) at Brooklyn Nets (2-3)
Every victory seems to be more special than the previous one for the Indiana Pacers, specifically due to the fact they have begun the 2013-14 season on a six-game winning streak. The blue and gold search for their seventh straight win tonight in Brooklyn, New York as they take on the Nets. Last night’s ‘W’ set a record for the best start in the franchise’s NBA days. A win over the Nets at the Barclays Center tonight would set a new record for the best start in Indiana Pacers history.
Standing in the way of a seventh consecutive win is a team stacked with current and former All-Stars in Deron Williams, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez. Those five make up head coach Jason Kidd’s starting lineup. Despite the history, Brooklyn has struggled early and yet to develop any kind of chemistry.
That said, the Nets are in dire need of a win tonight at home to reach the .500 mark at 3-3. Frank Vogel must do a good job of preparing his players for their second game of a back-t0-back and fourth game in five nights. Indiana knocked off the Toronto Raptors last night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, when they trailed by as many as 10 points in the first half before pulling away with a strong second half.
The task at hand for the Indiana Pacers will be, as always, bringing the defensive intensity. It is no secret that the Nets have scoring options across the board. Every member of their starting lineup is capable of scoring 20 points any given night.
Williams has the ability to attack the basket, shoot the three ball, and dish the rock to his teammates. Garnett is most comfortable hanging out in the 15- to 20-foot range for open jumpers. Johnson and Pierce can do it all, but constant pressure from the Pacers’ defense could cause them trouble, especially handling the ball.
The Brook Lopez-Roy Hibbert matchup down low is the most intriguing. Lopez is very strong posting up and has put up big numbers in the past against the Indiana Pacers and Roy Hibbert. Hibbert as a shot-blocking machine ought to slow Lopez down in the one-on-one game.
I look for Lance Stephenson to have a big game in Brooklyn. He returns to his hometown to play in front of friends and family a night after scoring four points versus the Raptors. Paul George needs to continue his aggressiveness and score in the 20s once again. The bench play could be critical for the first time all season.
Expect the Indiana Pacers to come out a little flat tonight. I think fatigue will kick in for the starters, thus a huge game from the bench is very important. I will go with the Brooklyn Nets tonight in a close one: 93-91.