Oklahoma City Thunder (58-21) at Indiana Pacers (54-26)
Location: Bankers Life Fieldhouse — Indianapolis, IN
Tip: 1:00 p.m. ET
Line: IND -2.5
Tickets: Totally Tickets
Let me get the seeding talk out of the way first. As we all know, the Indiana Pacers have stressed obtaining the Eastern Conference’s No. 1 overall seed is their top priority. With a win today and another Wednesday against Orlando, Indiana can do just that. They are currently tied with Miami for the top seed.
I wanted to get that out of the way because that simply should not be the focus anymore. If the Pacers truly want to get back on track and head into the postseason on a high note, the players need to be concerned about fixing their own issues than trying to worry about anyone else, namely the Heat.
Starting this afternoon, Indy must shift its focus to taking care of the basketball, feeding its big men and playing the game efficiently on both ends of the floor.
Friday night at AmericanAirlines Arena in South Beach, the Indiana Pacers were defeated by the Miami Heat, 86-98. Albeit the Pacers playing a little better, they still had a 7- or 8-minutes stretch to start the third quarter in which nothing went their way. That ultimately led to another losing effort.
Shifting to today’s game, the Oklahoma City Thunder enter town with a potent offense and arguably the league’s MVP this year in Kevin Durant. The primary piece of OKC’s offense, Durant averages 31.9 points per game by himself.
Durant’s partner in crime, Russell Westbrook, contributes another 21.8 points a game.
Enough said. There you have Indiana’s game plan today: stop Durant and Westbrook (almost impossible). The Pacers suffered a blowout loss in Oklahoma City earlier this season, 94-118. It came on the second night of a back-to-back; Indy beat San Antonio on the first night, 111-100 (just for the record: the Pacers would not beat the Spurs right now — that was when Indy was playing its best basketball).
I’ll let the players do most of the talking today on the hardwood. First and foremost, however, I want to send a wake-up call to Roy Hibbert and George Hill.
Prediction: Indiana will play better at home. Remember, though, a week ago today in their most recent home game, the Pacers were ran out of their own house in embarrassing fashion at the hands of the Atlanta Hawks. We’ll see how the blue and gold respond, playing in front of the home fans for the first time since that loss. Oklahoma City 106, Indiana 99.