Creative lineup change helps Pacers take down Thunder

The Indiana Pacers were going for their third straight win against Oklahoma City. A creative lineup change helped them get there.

Mar 12, 2024; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; Indiana Pacers forward Aaron Nesmith (23) celebrates
Mar 12, 2024; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; Indiana Pacers forward Aaron Nesmith (23) celebrates / Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports
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The Indiana Pacers had a chance to make a statement to the rest of the East on Tuesday night. If they could get a win in Oklahoma City, it would be their third consecutive win on the road. It would also signal that the Pacers would be out of their post-All-Star funk.

It wasn't easy. Despite going up by as much as 16 points in the second quarter, the Thunder would come back to take the lead in the third. Indiana held a seven-point lead heading into the fourth quarter. They were able to hold on in the end, winning the game 121-111.

Myles Turner was huge in the game, scoring 24 points and blocking four shots. His ability to shoot the three really helps this team when they get stuck in the muck in the half-court. That helps when Pascal Siakam is out there because he's not as good of a three-point shooter. It was a lineup change involving Siakam that helped the Pacers win the game.

Rick Carlisle makes sly lineup change to help Pacers beat Thunder

One thing that the Indiana Pacers did to make an adjustment in this game was break out an earlier substitution pattern than normal. Carlisle would take Siakam out sooner in the first quarter and put Obi Toppin in with the rest of the starters. Not only was that good for Toppin's offense, but it helps the bench too.

This pattern allows Siakam to be the focal point of the second unit. Without Bennedict Mathurin available, that unit lacks a shot-creator. Enter Siakam. He fixes that issue and allows the Pacers to create more offense in the half-court when T.J. McConnell is getting walled-up.

This win puts the Pacers 6th in the East, which is critical. They need to separate themselves from the jumble of teams around the play-in game. Home-court in the playoffs is still within reach for this team. If they keep playing defense like this, they can definitely do that.

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The Pacers play again on Wednesday, so they might have some tired legs. It's against the Bulls too, which is a game they need to win.