Indiana Pacers (22-5) at Brooklyn Nets (9-17)
Tonight the Indiana Pacers will take on the Brooklyn Nets on the second night of a back-to-back. Indiana defeated the Boston Celtics Sunday evening in a 106-79 blowout behind Lance Stephenson’s triple-double.
Stephenson also had a triple-double in the first meeting between Indiana and Boston. He will look to continue his stellar play back in his home state of New York, where he is deemed arguably New York City’s best high school basketball player of all time.
The Pacers won the first matchup with Brooklyn in November, 96-91. Since then, the Nets have struggled with aging veterans and a season-ending injury to center Brook Lopez. The injury is devastating for a team that does not have any backups with great experience, specifically as a starter.
Paul Pierce has been coming off the bench recently for head coach Jason Kidd, a sign that Kidd is searching for some scoring from the second unit. It could also mean there aren’t enough shots to go around for the starters, with Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Kevin Garnett and, until recently, Lopez all wanting to get their numbers.
That said, Pierce is the primary force to be reckoned with on Brooklyn’s second unit. Danny Granger is likely to get the task of defending Pierce. Granger came off the Indiana Pacers bench last night against Boston to score 12 points on 4-5 shooting from beyond the arc.
Paul George has regained his shooting stroke after a three-game slump leading up to last week’s battle with the Miami Heat.
Center Roy Hibbert is also coming off a strong performance Sunday with a double-double of 15 points and 12 rebounds. Watch for Hibbert tonight as well; with Lopez out, it will be a struggle for Brooklyn in the post and on the glass. Garnett should have his work cut out for him between Hibbert and David West.
Slowing the Nets’ transition game is critical at the Barclays Center. Williams likes to get out and run, so it is important that Indiana’s guards get back and help get the team defense set and force Brooklyn to play a half-court game.
Indiana holds the advantage in the paint and should head into the Christmas holiday with a nice win. Pacers take a 2-0 lead in the season series with a 94-81 victory.