Aaron Nesmith, Rick Carlisle
(NBAE/Getty Images)

Game Preview: Pacers vs 76ers

Saturday, March 18 at 7:00 PM ET at Gainbridge Fieldhouse

Pacers vs 76ers
Game Preview

After stunning the East-leading Bucks in Milwaukee, the Pacers (32-38) will look to knock off another of the conference's top teams on Saturday, when Joel Embiid and the 76ers (46-22) visit Gainbridge Fieldhouse for the second time in 12 days.

Indiana is coming off arguably its most impressive victory of the season, a 139-123 victory over the Bucks despite being without All-Star guard Tyrese Haliburton, who sprained his ankle in practice on Wednesday and is expected to miss at least three games. Even without Haliburton, the Blue & Gold's offense was rolling, particularly in the second half.

The Pacers surged ahead thanks to a 49-point third quarter (the second-highest scoring third quarter in franchise history) and outscored Milwaukee 84-59 in the second half. It was an all-around effort, as eight different Pacers reached double figures. The Blue & Gold set a new season high with 36 assists and went 22-for-46 (47.8 percent) from 3-point range.

The victory was all the more satisfying considering the Pacers’ struggles against the Bucks in recent years. Indiana had dropped 10 straight games against its Central Division rivals and nine in a row in Milwaukee. Thursday was the Pacers’ first win at Fiserv Forum in 10 tries since the arena opened in 2018.

The win was also crucial in the Pacers' postseason push. Indiana moved to within a half-game of 10th place (and the final spot in the Play-In Tournament) with Thursday's victory with 12 games remaining in the regular season. Indiana could potentially be in 10th when it takes the floor on Saturday if Washington and Chicago both lose on Friday.

Philadelphia, meanwhile, is chasing Milwaukee for the top seed in the East and riding a seven-game win streak. Leading the way is Joel Embiid, one of the frontrunners in the MVP race. As of Thursday, Embiid leads the NBA in scoring at 33.5 points per game and ranks eighth in rebounding (10.2 per contest). James Harden, a former MVP himself, has proven to be a worthy wingman for Embiid, averaging 21.7 points and leading the NBA in assists at 10.8 per contest.

The Pacers saw firsthand what Philadelphia is capable of back on March 6, when the Sixers dropped 147 points in a victory at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Embiid scored 42 points and Harden dished out 20 assists in the win, as the duo combined to go 26-for-28 from the free throw line.

The Sixers will be on the second night of a back-to-back on Saturday, as they played on Friday night in Charlotte before traveling to Indiana. They didn't have to exert too much energy, cruising to a 121-82 victory. Embiid tallied 38 points on 16-of-21 shooting and 13 assists in just 29 minutes, sitting out the entire fourth quarter.

Projected Starters

Pacers:  G - Andrew Nembhard, G - Buddy Hield, F - Aaron Nesmith, F - Jordan Nwora, C - Myles Turner

76ers: G - James Harden, G - Tyrese Maxey, F - Tobias Harris, F - P.J. Tucker, C - Joel Embiid

Injury Report

Pacers:  Kendall Brown - out (right tibia stress fracture), Chris Duarte - out (sore left ankle), Tyrese Haliburton - out (right ankle sprain), Bennedict Mathurin - out (right ankle sprain)

76ers: Jalen McDaniels - questionable (right hip contusion), P.J. Tucker - questionable (sore left ankle)

Last Meeting

March 6, 2023: For most of the night, it felt like the scoreboard operator could barely keep up as the Pacers and 76ers -- led by their respective All-Stars -- traded basket after basket. The two teams combined for 157 points in the first half alone and continued to shoot the lights out into the fourth quarter.

But Philadelphia ultimately prevailed, using a 10-0 run in the fourth quarter to build a lead they would not relinquish in a 147-143 win over Indiana.

"As entertaining games in the NBA go, I don't know how you get much better than this one," Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle said.

Seven Pacers scored in double figures on the night, led by Tyrese Haliburton with 40 points and a season-high 16 assists. The All-Star guard scored Indiana's final 14 points and finished the night 12-for-19 from the field, 5-for-10 from 3-point range, and 11-for-12 from the free throw line.

But Joel Embiid tallied a game-high 42 points, going 11-for-16 from the field and a perfect 19-for-19 from the free throw line, and James Harden added 14 points and 20 assists to lead Philadelphia to victory.

Philadelphia shot 58.5 percent from the field and went 35-for-38 from the free throw line in the win, offsetting an equally spectacular offensive performance by the Blue & Gold, who shot 58.9 percent on the night.

  • The Pacers need a win on Saturday to avoid being swept by the 76ers for the first time since the 2004-05 season.
  • No player in NBA history has ever averaged 20 points and 10 assists while shooting 40 percent or better from 3-point range over the course of a season, but three players have a legitimate shot of accomplishing the feat this season. Haliburton is currently are doing it, while Harden is right on the precipice with a .390 3-point percentage as is two-time MVP Nikola Jokic, who is averaging 9.9 assists.
  • Philadelphia is 7-3 on the season when playing on the second night of a back-to-back.
Broadcast Information (TV and Radio Listings >>)

TV: Bally Sports Indiana - Chris Denari (play-by-play), Quinn Buckner (analyst), Jeremiah Johnson (sideline reporter/host)

Radio: 93.5/107.5 The Fan - Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Eddie Gill (analyst), Pat Boylan (sideline reporter/host)


The Pacers return to Gainbridge Fieldhouse to host Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday, March 18 at 7:00 PM ET. Find Tickets >>