Friday, April 5, 2013 at 8:00 PM EDT at Bankers Life Fieldhouse
Game Preview: IND vs OKC
Scott Agness | April 1, 2013
One of the top teams in the league, Oklahoma City, comes to town Friday for one of the best games this season at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. It was even originally scheduled to be on ESPN, until the network replaced it to follow Miami Heat’s win streak, which has since ended.
The game is still a later tip-off, 8 PM EST, and can be seen on FOX Sports Indiana. Oklahoma City is Indiana's final regular-season Western Conference opponent.
While the Pacers will have three days between games after completing a weeklong trip out West, the Thunder will be coming off a critical game the night before, at home against the West-leading San Antonio Spurs. It’s slated to tip after 8:30 PM, meaning the Thunder won’t arrive in Indianapolis until well after midnight. They are 7-5 this season on the second night of a back-to-back.
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The Thunder have a very difficult stretch to close the season. Seven of their final nine games are against playoff teams, including three-game stretch vs. San Antonio, at Indiana, and vs. New York.
They’ve been strong all year long, winning more than half their games (38) by double figures, including their first meeting with the Pacers. Their starting unit is very polished, and has started together in all but three games this season.
This will be a big night for Indiana’s defense, as Oklahoma City is ranks among the top in many critical statistical categories including points (first, 106 per game), free throw percentage (first, 83 percent), field goal shooting (third, 48 percent), point differential (first, 9.2) and blocks (first, 7.6 per game). It will also be especially key for the Pacers to score, because the Thunder are 16-1 when holding opponents under 90.
One of the top players in the world today, Kevin Durant, averages 28.3 points per game and will likely earn his fourth-straight scoring title. That would be the third-longest streak in NBA history, behind Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain who each did it for seven years in a row. Russell Westbrook, who, like Durant, played on the Olympic Gold Medal team, is also dangerous in his own right.
Pacers: Ian Mahinmi (probable, right shoulder contusion), Danny Granger (out for season, left knee)
“I think we’re playing at a high level. It’s good for our confidence, but the last couple of days we have had the mindset that we’re putting [the road trip success] behind us. We have a lot of work to do and we’re still a half-game back from New York.” – Frank Vogel
“They’re a challenge. It’s not like they've got a lot of weakness so we just got to play a solid brand of basketball ... and limit our turnovers and mistakes.” – Frank Vogel on the Thunder
“It’s given us a big lift. When David West went down we needed to find some offensive production elsewhere and he had his best stretch of the season at the time that we needed it most.” – Frank Vogel on Roy Hibbert
- The Thunder won their last meeting in early December.
- The Pacers are 11-1 when Paul George scores 25 or more points.
- The Pacers are 6-0 when Tyler Hansbrough records a double-double.
- Russell Westbrook is Mr. Durable, having played in 386 consecutive games – the longest active streak in the NBA.
- Oklahoma City’s Director of Medical Services, Dr. Donnie Strack, served as a Graduate Assistant athletic trainer for the Pacers from 2002-2005 and was often known as Reggie Miller’s ball boy.
- April 4-12 is NBA Green Week; Players will be wearing special adidas on-court apparel.
The Pacers nearly pulled off a monumental road win, getting to within three of the Thunder with five minutes to play. However, the Pacers could not hit a shot the final 5:26 and were outscored 10-2 to close the game in a 104-93 loss on Dec. 9.
David West paced the Pacers with 21 points and nine rebounds. Paul George had 17 points and George Hill added 15. Despite just 10 first-half points, Kevin Durant led all scorers with 27 points on 9-of-24 shooting. Kevin Martin scored 22 of his 24 points in the first half and Russell Westbrook contributed 21 points. Against a quick and challenging team, the Pacers only turned the ball over seven times.
Broadcast Information | Find Local Listings »
TV: FOX Sports Indiana/NBA TV – Chris Denari (play-by-play), Austin Croshere (analyst), Brooke Olzendam (sideline reporter)
Radio: FM 107.5/AM 1070 The Fan, Pacers Radio Network - Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Bobby "Slick" Leonard (analyst), Michael Grady (host)