Utah Jazz (21-37) at Indiana Pacers (45-13)
Location: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN
Tip: 6:00 p.m. EST
TV: Check local listings
Line: IND -11.5
The Indiana Pacers play host to the Utah Jazz tonight at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in a 6:00 p.m. Eastern time tip-off.
Indiana defeated the Boston Celtics on Saturday night in Boston, 102-97, making tonight’s game the second of a back-to-back. The Pacers have fared much better in the first game of back-to-backs this season, but I expect a strong effort from the blue and gold against Utah.
A win tonight for the Indiana Pacers would be their fifth straight as they look to create a gap between themselves and the Miami Heat.
The Pacers beat the Jazz in Utah back in December with a final score of 95-86. Utah has a very young nucleus with rookie Trey Burke and young veterans Gordon Hayward and Alec Burks.
Utah has the third-worst record in the Western Conference after many years of winning seasons under now-retired coach Jarry Sloan.
However, stopping Burke and Hayward is important to beating the Jazz. The two can create their own offense and have just as much athleticism as their opposition, Indiana’s backcourt guards and Paul George/Evan Turner.
George and Turner will get the defensive matchup with Hayward, while C.J. Watson, Donald Sloan and potentially George Hill would have the task of slowing Burke.
Hill missed the game Saturday night in Boston with a bruised shoulder after taking a hard fall in Thursday’s game against Milwaukee. The starting guard is questionable for tonight’s contest with Utah.
I expect George and David West to have big games against the Jazz, as Utah doesn’t seem to have an answer for them, defensively, on paper.
Bottom line is the Indiana Pacers need to come out firing and build an early advantage. They will continue to get other teams’ best efforts, but it shouldn’t matter tonight. Pacers win 103-91.