Technically, the week of games isn’t complete for the Indiana Pacers, but I can you give my take on what has happened so far, and what I believe will happen in tonight’s game against the Boston Celtics. I had originally stated that the Pacers should go 3-1 on this week, but unfortunately the first two games of the week proved me wrong off the bat. The Pacers saw their first two game losing streak of the season, and their first home loss of the season. Not exactly the best way to start the week. But things turned around for the better on Friday and now they have a chance to salvage the week with a win tonight. 2-2 against some quality opponents isn’t a terrible thing.
The first home loss of the season saw the Indiana Pacers get beat at their own game. The Detroit Pistons came out and controlled the rebounding battle by a wide margin. The offensive glass was all Pistons by a margin of 20-9. When you give up that many second opportunities, you’re going to have a tough team mentally getting back into the game. It’s almost a let down if you play so well defensively, then you give up a rebound by the offense. I think that did play a big part in the Pacers’ game as the Pistons looked to be in their heads a bit. Josh Smith had a terrific game of 30 points, which was unusual to see against the solid defense of Paul George. Paul George on his offensive side of things struggled. He shot 4-14 as he was in a small shooting slump over a couple of games. He still finished with 17 points, but it wasn’t a pretty 17 points. Roy Hibbert, who I believed was going to be a big factor in the game, only had 6 points. The Pistons evened up the season series with that win and get to be the team that said they gave the Pacers their first home loss. I do think it was a big statement win for them, more so than a statement loss for the Pacers.
The Miami Heat made a statement as well against the Indiana Pacers, even if they don’t like to admit it. They were able to climb back into this game that was controlled most of the way by the Pacers, who lead by as many as 15 points. I said at that time, the Pacers had to get the lead up to 20 to feel a little bit of ease. But the lead kept shrinking after that. The big factor in this one was the foul trouble of Roy Hibbert. Hibbert was a huge advantage the Pacers had over the Heat because of his size. He had been getting 20some points a game against the Heat in the playoffs last season, and had 24 points in the win last week over the Heat. If he could have stayed on the floor during that third, MAYBE the Pacers could have protected their lead more. You know the Heat have those big runs in them, hence why you have to build up a big lead and somehow hold on to it. But the Heat pick up the win, and this season series is tied at 1-1. Everyone is ready for these two teams to battle it out in the playoffs as they seem destined to meet up in another Conference Finals matchup.
Indiana Pacers 114
Houston Rockets 81
This was the win that surprised me a bit. I knew the Pacers could beat the Rockets, but I was predicting an 8-10 point win for the Blue and Gold. The Pacers absolutely dominated the Rockets. They outscored them every quarter. They outrebounded the Rockets. The Pacers held the Rockets to 81 points, which is way below their season average of 106. Dwight Howard had a decent game, but it wasn’t enough. The defense was there all night as James Harden of the Rockets, who you knew can go off any night, shot 3-14 from the field. This was the win that the Pacers needed to get their bearings back. Now they have to follow it up with a great performance this evening to make the win end on a good note.
Tonight’s game should be a great homecoming for Brad Stevens, but then I believe it will be all Pacers. Last time these teams met, the Pacers just seemed to do enough to win the game. But I want to come out and play like Friday night. Take care of the Celtics early on, and don’t look back, especially when you consider the Pacers play again tomorrow night at Brooklyn. You want to make it so your starters could rest up a bit in the fourth quarter, and be ready to go for a battle with the Nets. I do think that the Celtics are playing so tough under Coach Stevens that you have to be a bit leery. This Celtics team did knock off the Miami Heat at the beginning of the year. The Pacers are the better team, so the better team should win.