Are the Indiana Pacers in for a cold revenge against the Washington Wizards?

Indiana Pacers v Washington Wizards - Mandatory Credit: Doug McSchooler-USA TODAY Sports
Indiana Pacers v Washington Wizards - Mandatory Credit: Doug McSchooler-USA TODAY Sports /

After dropping their season opener, the Indiana Pacers have an opportunity to make a quick turnaround on the road once more, facing a new-look Washington Wizards team that substantially retooled in the offseason.

Despite trading Russell Westbrook, the Wizards didn’t miss a beat in their first game, using their newfound depth to dispatch the Toronto Raptors 98-83 to kick off their campaign on a good note, a far cry from the Pacers’ disappointing 23-point collapse against the Charlotte Hornets.

To get on the winning column, Indiana will have to be a vastly different team against Washington, primarily on defense. While the Wizards struggled from the field in their opener, they are led by Bradley Beal, last season’s second-leading scorer. Good to great scorers like Spencer Dinwiddie, Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, Daniel Gafford and Davis Bertans round out their versatile scoring profile.

With the Pacers already hobbled to begin the year, their role players also have to step up. Aside from the trio of Domantas Sabonis, rookie Chris Duarte, who came out firing in his first regular season game and Malcolm Brogdon, the team mightily struggled on offense, failing to make much difference to cement a win against the Hornets.

Will the Indiana Pacers serve cold revenge to the Washington Wizards?

Last season, not only did the Wizards eliminate the Pacers from playoff contention in the play-in tournament, but they essentially played vanquisher to the Blue and Gold for the entire year, taking all three games against each other. While Pacers killer Westbrook is now in Hollywood, Washington is now a much deeper and balanced team, a stark contrast with Indy’s injury-laden roster.

Still, the Pacers will have some advantages to wage against the Wizards in hopes of registering their first win of the season. Their frontcourt is not imposing on defense, with their combo of Gafford and Harrell not necessarily known as rim deterrents. Sabonis, fresh off a monstrous performance, should feast all over the floor.

Indiana also has a bevy of perimeter defenders that it can throw on Beal and Dinwiddie, with Brogdon, Duarte and Justin Holiday all presumably taking turns on their backcourt. Kuzma and Bertans could both be easily checked by Holiday, Torrey Craig and if Rick Carlisle elects him to play, Oshae Brissett. However, the Pacers have to avoid excessive fouling, with the Wizards trotting out crafty foul drawers of their own.

With this matchup as the first game of a back-to-back, the Indiana Pacers will have to be consistent on both ends for the entire game and hopefully, have some cushion to rest their legs to get ready for a quick meeting against the Miami Heat, which will begin a string of tough games to begin their campaign. A cold revenge against the team which eliminated them last season could push them into the right direction.

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