Wednesday, April 16, 2014 at 8:00 PM ET at Amway Center
Game Preview: Pacers (55-26) at Magic (23-58)
Scott Agness | Updated: April 15, 2014, 5:20 p.m.
The Pacers (55-26) close out their regular season slate Wednesday night in the Sunshine State against the Orlando Magic (23-58) – the same opponent they faced to tip off the season all the way back on October 29th.
Coming off a 102-97 home win over Oklahoma City, the Pacers will have had a couple days off between games. With the top seed in the East already clinched, coach Frank Vogel is electing to rest three starters — Lance Stephenson, Paul George and David West — and backup point guard C.J. Watson. Indiana will use just its fifth different starting lineup this season.
As George Hill and Roy Hibbert work their way out of a funk, Vogel will start them and play them likely through the first half. When the usual starters are out there, Hill and Hibbert are the fourth and fifth options. Playing with three reserves will allow them to get extra touches and be more of a focal point offensively. As a result, they’ll hopefully get in rhythm and gain confidence.
With the playoffs looming this weekend — Indiana will open against the Atlanta Hawks for the second consecutive postseason — the Pacers still want to shore up a number of items. That starts on the defensive end of the floor.
The Pacers, who still boast the league’s-best defense, have allowed an average of 100 points per game over the last six. Since the All-Star break, they rank 15th overall defensively. Turnovers, a problem all year, are another pressing issue. They coughed it over 23 times on Sunday but still managed to beat Oklahoma City.
The Magic, meanwhile, have lost six of eight, including three in a row. They have the NBA’s worst road record at 4-37, but fortunately for them, their season finale is a home game — and they have nearly split games this season at the Amway Center (19-21). Indiana certainly hasn't forgotten its loss in Orlando in early February, where they gave up a 17-point lead and dropped a game they shouldn’t have. About that time was when the team’s slide began.
Orlando is not moving on to postseason play for the second year in a row, so this is their final game of the season. For Indiana, it’s about getting Hill and Hibbert back on track, giving the bench guys quality minutes and carrying some positive momentum into the postseason.
Pacers: Andrew Bynum (out, sore right knee), Paul George (out, rest), Lance Stephenson (out, rest), C.J. Watson (out, rest), David West (out, rest)
Magic: Jameer Nelson (day-to-day, strained left groin), Nikola Vucevic (out for the season, sore left Achilles)
“They both have been struggling a little bit and I think it would benefit them to play without the others starters out there and get a few more touches.” – Frank Vogel on playing George Hill and Roy Hibbert
“It’s a serious game. If you’re a professional, you go out to win every game every night. I understand that it doesn’t change seeding or anything like that, but it’s a game to play and a game to go out and win. I think everybody that does play tomorrow is going to take that approach.” – Chris Copeland
“I’m feeling pretty good, especially after the last one. I think that we’ve been doing a lot of good things…so we have to keep playing the right way and finish this season the right way. It’s good to have the first seed locked.” – Ian Mahinmi
“I feel good. We’ve had a tough stretch, but we overcame it and now we’re first (in the Eastern Conference). We actually got one game that we don’t even have to play [everybody] so it’s a good situation for us.” – Luis Scola, who’s scored in double figures in each of the last four games
- The Pacers are 2-1 against the Magic this season, with the home team winning each game.
- Orlando has the Association’s third-youngest roster, with an average age of 25 years old.
- Pacers center Ian Mahinmi hasn’t missed a shot in the last four games. He’s made nine straight field goals and is 14-of-16 in April.
- Magic rookie Victor Oladipo has scored in double figures in 62 of 79 games this season.
February 9: Indiana squandered a 17-point lead late in the third period and ended up losing in Orlando, 92-92, snapping a four-game win streak. The Magic used a 32-8 run, led by 17 second-half points by rookie Victor Oladipo. And yet the Pacers, who failed to put the Magic away earlier, still had a chance. Lance Stephenson stole Orlando’s inbounds pass with nine seconds remaining, flicked it to Paul George, who settled for an 18-footer with three defenders on him. He had two teammates open but opted to take it himself.
George scored a game-high 27 points on 10-of-19 shooting. Stephenson contributed 16 points and David West was responsible for 14. The Pacers were outrebounded by seven, shot just 58 percent at the foul line and their bench was trumped by the Magic’s, 37-17.
Broadcast Information | Find Local Listings »
TV: FOX Sports Indiana – Chris Denari (play-by-play), Quinn Buckner (analyst), Brooke Olzendam (sideline reporter/host)
Radio: FM 107.5/AM 1070 The Fan, Pacers Radio Network – Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Michael Grady (studio host)