How will the Indiana Pacers handle a five-game West Coast road trip?
After a hot start to the season, the Indiana Pacers now face their next big hurdle of the year, a challenging five-game road trip against tough Western Conference competition. The Pacers will play five games in seven days, visit three states, and play two back-to-backs. The team will play with a serious rest disadvantage and deal with the jetlag of traversing three time zones.
On Monday night, the Indiana Pacers will meet the Sacramento Kings in the first of five big games on the road and the first game of a back-to-back. On Tuesday, the team makes the short trip to San Francisco to see the Golden State Warriors and hopefully end the back-to-back on a positive note.
The Pacers then travel to Oregon for a Thursday night battle against Damian Lillard and the Portland Trailblazers before traveling down to Phoenix with a rematch against the Suns. The Pacers’ game against the Suns will be the first game of another back-to-back as the Pacers wrap up their grueling road trip in Los Angeles against Paul George and the Clippers.
At the time of writing, Indiana’s opponents have a combined record of 27-21 or a respectable win percentage of .563. The road trip presents a unique opportunity for Coach Bjorkgren to adjust some aspects of his squad while still playing some quality opponents. One big issue will be rest and depth. Sabonis and Brogdon currently lead the team in minutes per game at an eye-watering 37 mpg. Oladipo is likely to be used sparingly, if at all for, the two back-to-back games. With T.J. Warren now out of the mix, Coach Bjorkgren will have to get creative with the rotation minutes.
With the starters likely to see a reduction in minutes and several injuries in the rotation, expect Justin and Aaron Holiday to play significant roles and a potential trial-by-fire for Cassius Stanley as the team makes do with what they have available.
The Pacers enter this five-game road trip with a 2-0 record as visitors thanks to wins over the Bulls and Pelicans. If the team can build upon this stat, perhaps teams will think twice when they see the Pacers on their schedule. Even if the team can escape this five-game stretch with a 3-2 record, they can count this business trip as a tremendous success.