Buddy Hield
(NBAE/Getty Images)

Game Preview: Pacers vs Rockets

Thursday, March 9 at 7:00 PM ET at Gainbridge Fieldhouse

Game Preview

Two of the youngest teams in the NBA will take to the hardwood on Thursday night in Indianapolis, but each squad finds itself in different situations as the postseason approaches.

The Indiana Pacers (29-37) are jockeying for positioning in the Eastern Conference standings while the Houston Rockets (15-50) have the second-worst record in the league entering Thursday night’s game at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.

As of Tuesday, the Pacers, with 16 games left on its schedule, sit two games back of the final Play-In Tournament spot. The top six teams in the East will automatically make the playoffs while seeds seven through 10 shall advance to the Play-In.

PLAYOFF PICTURE: Track the Latest Standings, Remaining Schedules, and More >>

The Pacers have dominated the series against the Rockets lately. Indiana has won six straight games against Houston, with the last loss coming to the Rockets on Nov. 15, 2019.

Since the All-Star break, the Pacers have a record of 3-3. On Monday night, the Blue & Gold lost a 147-143 shootout at home to the Philadelphia 76ers.The 143 points, achieved on 58.9 percent shooting, was a season high for the Pacers.

In the loss to the 76ers, Pacers point guard Tyrese Haliburton scored 40 points while also tallying a season-high 16 assists. It was the first time in Pacers history where a player scored 30 or more points while also dishing out 15 or more assists in a single game.

Since the All-Star break, in five games played, Halliburton has been on fire averaging 27.6 points on 57.1 percent shooting (48.6 percent from 3-point range), 12.2 assists and just 1.6 turnovers per game.

As a team, the Pacers are scoring at a high clip since the break, putting up 125 points per game...but are allowing 125.2 points during that same stretch.

The Rockets have struggled all season to put together wins, including 13 straight losses from Dec. 27, 2022, to Jan. 23, 2023.

Guard Jalen Green, the No. 2 overall pick from the 2021 draft, leads the Rockets at 21.7 points per game while also averaging 3.8 rebounds and 3.6 assists. Rookie Jabari Smith Jr., the No. 3 pick in 2022, has averaged 11.8 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.2 assists this season.

On Tuesday in Houston, the Rockets fell to the Brooklyn Nets 118-96. Green led the Rockets with 25 points and center Alperen Sengun recorded 16 points and 13 rebounds.

This time around against the Pacers, the Rockets will be without shooting guard Eric Gordon, who was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers in February. Gordon had a game-high 24 points in the first game.

Where the Rockets have excelled is on the glass, as they rank fourth in rebounds per game at 46.4 per game. Indiana is 25th in rebounding at 41.3 per game.

With a win, the Pacers can sweep the season series against the Rockets for a third straight season.

Projected Starters

Pacers: G - Tyrese Haliburton,  G - Andrew Nembhard, F - Buddy Hield, F - Jordan Nwora, C - Myles Turner

Rockets: G - Jalen Green, G - Jae'Sean Tate, F - Kenyon Martin Jr., F - Jabari Smith Jr., C - Alperen Sengun

Injury Report

Pacers: Aaron Nesmith - questionable (sore left hip), Kendall Brown - out (right tibia stress fracture surgery)

Rockets: Kevin Porter Jr. - out (left thigh contusion), TyTy Washington - out (G League assignment)

Last Meeting

Nov. 18, 2022: The Pacers were able to overcome a “horrendous start,” as assistant coach Lloyd Pierce called it, in a 99-91 win over the Rockets at the Toyota Center.

The Pacers scored a season-low, for any quarter, 10 points in the opening frame against the Rockets and feels behind by 15 points just 12 minutes into the game.

Indiana climbed back to lead 71-70 going into the fourth quarter and outscored the Rockets 28-21 down the final stretch to come back for the win.

Six Pacers players scored in double figures, led by 19 points from Haliburton, 17 points from Turner and 15 points from rookie Bennedict Mathurin. Jalen Smith, then in a starting role, achieved 10 points and 18 rebounds for the Pacers.

Gordon topped the Rockets with 24 points and Green added 16. The Pacers shot 40.2 percent from the field to the Rockets' 33.7 percent.

  • Nwora has scored in double figures in five straight games and started the last two for the Pacers. He has played in eight games total since being acquired in a trade with the Milwaukee Bucks before the deadline in February.
  • Houston leads the all-time series 57-43,but the Pacers are 25-23 against the Rockets while playing in Indy.
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 welcome Jalen Green and the Houston Rockets to Gainbridge Fieldhouse on Thursday, March 9 at 7:00 PM ET. Find Tickets >>