Sunday, April 13, 2014 at 1:00 PM ET at Bankers Life Fieldhouse

Game Preview: Pacers vs Thunder

Scott Agness | April 11, 2014

Fan Appreciation Night

Sunday is Fan Appreciation Night Presented by IMCU. There are fun giveaways throughout the night and you can register to win player autographed items.

Plus, the first 6,000 fans to the game will receive a one of a kind 2013-14 Pacers team poster courtesy of Sport Graphics.

Game time is 1:00 pm and Doors open at 11:30 a.m.

Matchup

Indiana’s (54-26) final regular season home game of the season at Bankers Life Fieldhouse pits them against the Oklahoma City Thunder (58-21), owners of the NBA’s second-best record (behind only San Antonio). Playoff seeds are very much on the line for both teams as the teams square off in an afternoon contest. It is Indiana’s first time this season appearing on network TV (ABC).

Kevin Durant, the favorite to be voted as league MVP, is the heart of the Thunder. He’s the NBA’s leading scorer at 32 points per game — almost five points more per game than Carmelo Anthony, the next-highest scorer. Durant has incredible length, a great stride and can hit big shots when it matters.

Paul George now believes Durant is the most difficult player in the league to guard because he is always moving. That provides a greater challenge to George, who always has to watch his back for screens. Durant’s sidekick, Russell Westbrook, has dealt with multiple knee injuries this season but has returned and been a big boost, averaging 29 points per game in April.

Part of what also makes the Thunder so good is their ability to win on the road, where they are 25-14 on the season. They are currently in the midst of a seven-game stretch with all but one game, their last one, coming on the road. The Pacers, meanwhile, hold the league’s best home record at 34-6.

After not arriving home until about 4 a.m. Saturday, the team held a very light practice later that day consisting solely of a film session and shooting free throws. They’re putting a big focus on managing rest at this point in the season, just a week before the playoffs begin.

The Pacers are still trying to regain their mojo or “rhythm” as coach Frank Vogel calls it. After resting the starters on Wednesday in Milwaukee, they returned Friday in Miami. They played terrifically in the first quarter, but then got swallowed up by Miami’s ferocious defensive attack. Most visible to Vogel in the film session was a hesitancy that bit them.

Roy Hibbert is critical to the Pacers having success. As the team has gone 10-13 since March 1, he has only one double-figure rebounding game and has two donuts. In four games this month, he’s been limited to seven points and 1.5 rebounds per game. Hibbert and Vogel each admit that Hibbert’s improvement, along with everyone else, is essential moving forward.

After Sunday’s game, the Pacers have just one game left on their slate before the postseason: Wednesday in Orlando.

Probable Starters

George Hill

George Hill

Lance Stephenson

Lance Stephenson

Paul George

Paul George

David West

David West

Roy Hibbert

Roy Hibbert

Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook

Thabo Sefolosha

Thabo Sefolosha

Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant

Serge Ibaka

Serge Ibaka

Kendrick Perkins

Kendrick Perkins

Injury Update

Pacers: Andrew Bynum (out, sore right knee)
Thunder: None

Quotable

“Hesitancy and tentativeness with the basketball. They had so many deflections with their pressure and then we had the open pass, we were reluctant to make it.” – Frank Vogel on what stood out while watching tape of their Miami loss

“It starts with ourselves. We can’t allow ourselves to beat ourselves in a tough game like this one tomorrow.” – Paul George

“It’s just got to be five guys locked in. We just all got to be locked in on him and be aware of his movements and where he’s at.” – Paul George on having to defend Durant

“Just got to find my way working through it. The process of doing that hasn’t been the best, I know that. Just trying to plug through it and just talk to the coaches and watch film.” – Roy Hibbert on his struggles

Noteworthy

  • Oklahoma City has won five of the past six meetings with the Pacers, including three straight.
  • Sunday’s game will be the Pacers’ 28th sellout of the season, nearly triple last season’s number (10).
  • Pacers coach Frank Vogel and Thunder coach Scott Brooks headed up the East and West All-Star teams, respectively, in February.

Last Meeting

December 8: Playing their fifth game in eight days, and second in as many nights, the Pacers went into Oklahoma City and fell to the hot-shooting Thunder, 118-94. The Thunder shot astonishing 61 percent, a season-best for an Indiana opponent, in their fourth straight home win in the series. Kevin Durant, who finished with a game-high 36 points, tallied 14 of his team’s first 18 points. The Pacers trailed by as many as 29 and never led.

Paul George scored 32 points, 10 coming at the foul line. Roy Hibbert had 12 points and nine rebounds, and David West chipped in 11. Russell Westbrook recorded a points/assists double-double, with 26 and 13. The Thunder scored 22 fast-break points and the Pacers’ 10.

Broadcast Information | Find Local Listings »

TV: ABC – Mike Breen (play-by-play), Jeff Van Gundy (analyst), Lisa Salters (reporter)
Radio: FM 107.5/AM 1070 The Fan, Pacers Radio Network – Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Slick Leonard (analyst), Kevin Lee (sideline reporter/host)
ESPN Radio – Kevin Calabro (play-by-play), Jon Barry (analyst)

Ticket Information

Limited seats remain for this exciting matchup. Find Tickets »

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