Thursday, January 30, 2014 at 7:00 PM ET at Bankers Life Fieldhouse
Game Preview: Pacers (35-9) vs Suns (27-18)
Scott Agness | January 28, 2014
The Pacers don’t have much of a break after returning home from their final five-game road trip of the season against Western Conference teams. But home is a welcome sight for the Pacers, who are 21-1 in games played at Bankers Life Fieldhouse this season. On Thursday, they host a familiar foe in the Phoenix Suns, and they’ll absolutely be locked in for this one after their worst defensive showing of the year in Phoenix just eight days prior.
In that 24-point loss, they gave up 124 points – the most points the Pacers have surrendered in the Frank Vogel era – as the Suns shot 54 percent, and 69 percent from downtown. The game was guard Gerald Green’s first meeting with his previous team, and he was undoubtedly fired up as he helped lead Phoenix to an upset.
The Pacers’ defense, which easily leads the league in points allowed, relaxed as they went out west. Western Conference teams typically play a faster pace, and that gave Indiana fits in Phoenix. The Pacers yielded 28 fast break points, a season-high. Two other problems they dealt with all trip were fouls and turnovers. Those are two areas the Pacers must tidy up now in the second half of the season.
Suns point guard Goran Dragic’s play this season has many believing that he deserves a reserve spot on the All-Star team, which will be announced just after this game is tipped. He is exceptionally dangerous in the pick-and-roll game, as the Pacers found out. Time after time the Suns ran it, and he got around his defender leaving Pacers center Roy Hibbert, who fouled out, alone at the rim. Dragic leads the Suns with averages of 19.4 points and 6.1 assists per game, and he’s shooting nearly 50 percent from the floor.
The Suns are a balanced unit, with seven players regularly in the lineup averaging at least nine points per contest. They are first in fast break points (18.9 per game) and third in 3-point field goals made (9.4). With a win at Philadelphia on Monday, their 26th of the season, the Suns have already topped last year’s win total (25).
The Pacers’ first-round pick in 2012, Miles Plumlee, has improved a lot with his enhanced opportunity since being traded this summer to Phoenix along with Green in exchange for Luis Scola. He has started every game with the Suns and swallows up almost nine boards per game. Green can help or hurt his team, but is always a threat to go off, as he did last meeting. Power forward Markieff Morris has scored 20-plus point in four of their last seven games, as of Tuesday, so he’s another guy the Pacers must keep in check.
Suns: Emeka Okafor (out, herniated disc), Eric Bledsoe (out, right knee arthroscopy)
- The Suns have won six of the last eight meetings with the Pacers in Indianapolis, after going winless in their first six visits to The Fieldhouse.
- Phoenix will be playing on the second night of a back-to-back, where they are 5-5 this season.
Jan. 22: The Suns closed the first quarter on an 8-0 for a one-point lead, which they’d hold the rest of the way in a 124-100 victory over the Pacers. Indiana never had a handle on the game, trailing by as many as 26 and getting pummeled on the defensive end. They gave up 124 points, 28 fast break points, and turned it over 21 times — not a recipe to win a game. Indiana’s 51 percent shooting looks like nothing compared to Phoenix’s deadly accurate 69 percent mark from outside.
Paul George led the Pacers with 26 points and seven rebounds. George Hill was perfect from the field, 4-for-4, for 16 points, and David West (13) was the only other Pacers player in double figures. The Suns, meanwhile, had six contribute at least 10 points, headlined by Gerald Green’s 23. Goran Dragic, who sliced the Pacers up off of screens, had 21, and Miles Plumlee finished with 11 & 7.
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), Slick Leonard (analyst), Kevin Lee (sideline reporter/host)
Good seats are still available for the Pacers' rematch with the Suns. Find your tickets now before time runs out. Find Tickets »