Indiana Pacers (39-10) at Orlando Magic (15-37)
Location: Amway Center, Orlando, FL
Tip: 6:00 p.m. EST
TV: Check local listings
Line: IND -8.0
The Indiana Pacers played host to the Orlando Magic less than a week ago, defeating the second-worst team in the NBA 98-79.
Tonight, Indiana faces the Magic in Orlando, looking to take a 3-0 advantage in the season series between the two teams. Thus, the game plan should not be any different, having already beaten Orlando twice, both by double-digits.
First and foremost for the Pacers is feeding off the momentum from Friday night’s win over Portland. The Trail Blazers battled Indiana all night, taking the game to overtime, before the Pacers created a gap and won 118-113.
That also includes guard George Hill continuing his offensive aggressiveness. Hill scored 37 points Friday night on 12-19 shooting from the field.
Teammate David West added 30 points Friday on 13-16 shooting, so I expect head coach Frank Vogel to look for those guys to get going early. Meanwhile, All-Star starter Paul George has struggled of late, including shooting a paltry 5-23 from the field against Portland on Friday.
I envision George shooting his way out of the slump he is in before the All-Star break, which begins Wednesday night for the Indiana Pacers, following their matchup at home against the Dallas Mavericks.
Vogel will most likely draw up some plays offensively for George to get him some clean, open looks at the basket. The Pacers’ head coach also could suggest George attack the basket more in search of drawing fouls and getting to the charity stripe.
On Indiana’s side tonight is the return of starting guard Lance Stephenson, who sat out Friday’s game with a bruised lower back. Stephenson suffered the injury in Atlanta while facing off with the Hawks on February 4. Stephenson attacked the basket hard and drew a hard foul, taking an awkward fall and leaving the contest.
As for Orlando tonight, the Indiana Pacers need to exploit their offense and continue to play stingy defense. I don’t see the Magic posing as a threat for Indiana. Pacers win 102-86.