Grades: It’s OK to call the Indiana Pacers contenders now


Thaddeus Young and the Indiana Pacers survived a monster of half from Joel Embiid and went on to dispatch the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Indiana Pacers ripped off their sixth-straight win with a see-sawing victory over the Philadelphia 76ers.

Despite the 28 points and 16 rebounds by Joel Embiid in the first half, the 76ers couldn’t stop Thaddeus Young and the rest of the Pacers from slowing chipping away at their lead before taking a double-digit lead of their own.

Despite the feeling in the first half — the 76ers were dominating the Pacers — the scoreboard showed only a 10-point deficit.

Whether it was the halftime adjustments made by Nate McMillan or the fatigue of the 76ers, it completely flipped the game around. Philadelphia wasn’t finding the same ease to score with as they did in the first half. Indiana grinded away and outscored them by 20 points in the second half thanks to surges by Bojan Bogdanovic, Young, and Victor Oladipo.

101. 93. 113. 100. Final

Thaddeus Young: Industrial Strength Glue Guy

Like most of the Pacers, Thaddeus Young didn’t look overly impressive statistically (only 11 points), but Young once again showed why he is truly the most underrated player in the NBA. Young continued to lead the Pacers into the second half and when all was said and done, he had 26 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists.

In a night where hardly anyone else had anything going in the first half (save Domantas Sabonis), Young kept Indiana in the game. In the second half, he poured it on as the 76ers looked mismatched against the Pacers.

Domantas Sabonis for Sixth Man of the Year

One again, Domantas Sabonis played the role of a Sixth Man of the Year candidate. His 10 point and 11 rebound surge off the bench for a foul-troubled Myles Turner stopped the bleeding and began to balance out the game. The 76ers would rip off a run before the half, but without his first-half double-double, the Pacers don’t win this game. The deficit might have been too much for them to overcome.

It’s a luxury to call Sabonis off the bench. Turner was struggling to stop Embiid (though Sabonis was, too), but plugging in the Lithuanian and getting his offense is a huge advantage for Indiana. Many nights, his scoring adds to the lead, but against the 76ers it was necessary if Indiana wanted to keep in the game. He had a double-double in just 15 minutes on the court.

The Indiana Pacers are a contender in the East

Before Friday, it was easy to look at Indiana’s schedule while Oladipo was out and attribute their record to the calendar. Who had they really beat?

But after blasting the Milwaukee Bucks and then slowly draining the life out of the 76ers, it’s a lot harder to say they don’t belong in the conversation.

They’re a half-game back of second-place Milwaukee going into Saturday.

B-. Missed out on a double-double with 8 points and 10 rebounds, but his passing was part of the reason the Pacers didn’t fall too far behind in the first half.<br />. PG. Indiana Pacers. DARREN COLLISON

B +. Bojan Bogdanovic is playing like an All-Star as of late. 18 points on 7 of 13 shooting (including 3 of 5 from deep) despite only having 4 points in the first half. The timeliness of his scoring can’t be overlooked either as he and Thad put the 76ers away late.<br />. SF. Indiana Pacers. BOJAN BOGDANOVIC

PF. Indiana Pacers. THADDEUS YOUNG. A. Thadeus Young is having one of his best weeks with the Pacers. Aftering shutting down the Greek Freak, Young was the best player for the Pacers on Friday. His points and rebounds get him a double-double, but the five helped keep the 76ers out of sorts as they tried to slow him down.<br />

D+. Just got dominated by Joel Embiid in the first half. Was largely responsible for Embiid’s 32 points and 18 rebounds in the first half. On the bright side, his defense in the 3rd quarter helped tip things Indiana’s direction. However, those defensive struggles early on mixed with 8 points and 6 rebounds don’t equal a good night.<br />. C. Indiana Pacers. MYLES TURNER

A. The Pacers needed every point Domas got in the first half. He didn’t fare as well against Joel Embiid directly, but when you get 14 points and 16 rebounds, it doesn’t really matter who it was against.<br />. C. Indiana Pacers. DOMANTAS SABONIS

A 2 of 11 shooting performance is sadly expected, but at least <a rel=. SG. Indiana Pacers. TYREKE EVANS. C+

A. 14 points and 4 assists for <a rel=. PG. Indiana Pacers. CORY JOSEPH

C -. Didn’t make a shot but considering how he’s played over the last month, you have to assume his floor spacing helps even on tough nights.<br />. SF. Indiana Pacers. DOUG MCDERMOTT

Here are 4 things the Pacers got right while Oladipo was gone. dark. Next

The Pacers host the New York Knicks on Sunday at 7 p.m.