After battling against the Bulls, the Pacers (19-35) are squaring off with another division rival in the Cleveland Cavaliers (32-21) on Sunday night. It is the first of two consecutive road games for the Blue & Gold before they head home for a pair of games.
With Indiana still short-staffed at the center position, rookie Terry Taylor is using this scenario to his full advantage. In his first career start, Taylor recorded his second consecutive double-double. On Sunday, Taylor will have another tough matchup down low against 6-11 center Jarrett Allen. So far, Allen has shined in his fifth year and currently averages a double-double for the Cavs (16 points, 10.7 rebounds per game).
However, Indiana is still struggling to stop opponents in the paint because of its disadvantage at center. The squad surrendered 70 points in the paint to Chicago and now faces another team that frequently uses the paint. 44.3 percent of the Cavaliers' points this season are coming from the interior — the sixth-most in the NBA.
That said, Indiana may need to have a bountiful offensive performance to topple Cleveland. A good indicator for that would be a repeat performance for Caris LeVert.
LeVert tallied 42 points on 19-of-26 shooting against the Bulls on Friday — his new Pacers career high. The Michigan product recorded 22 points in the first quarter, misfiring only one of his 11 attempts.
Duane Washington Jr. also returned to form after struggling against the Orlando Magic. The rookie finished with 17 points on 50 percent shooting in 28:14 off the bench. Washington could light up from deep at any moment for the Blue & Gold. If that occurs, the Pacers could have enough firepower to pull out a much-needed victory.
Pacers: PG - Caris LeVert, SG - Chris Duarte, SF - Justin Holiday, PF - Torrey Craig, C - Terry Taylor
Cavaliers: PG - Brandon Goodwin, SG - Isaac Okoro, SF - Cedi Osman, PF - Evan Mobley, C - Jarrett Allen
Pacers: Goga Bitadze - questionable (sore right foot), Malcolm Brogdon - questionable (sore right Achilles), Domantas Sabonis - questionable (health and safety protocols), Isaiah Jackson - out (right ankle sprain), T.J. McConnell - out (right wrist ligament surgery), Myles Turner - out (left foot stress reaction), T.J. Warren – out (left navicular fracture)
Cavaliers: Darius Garland - questionable (sore lower back), Lauri Markkanen - out (right ankle sprain), Ricky Rubio - out (left knee ACL tear), Collin Sexton - out (left knee meniscal tear)
Jan. 2, 2022: Kicking off the new year against their division rivals, the Pacers battled to the wire with the Cavaliers. However, with nine players sidelined – eight due to health and safety protocols — Indiana fell short of the victory. The Cavs defeated the Pacers, 108-104, at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse.
The Pacers appeared in control well into the third, holding an 11-point edge over the hosts. However, Cleveland roared back with a 15-0 run — eight from veteran Kevin Love — over the final 3:04 of the frame. Indiana trailed 88-84 when entering the fourth quarter. Love capped the spree with a buzzer-beating three that stripped away the last remnants of the Pacers' momentum.
Trailing by six, Duane Washington Jr. and Oshae Brissett knotted the score at 90 apiece using back-to-back treys. However, the Cavs retaliated with seven straight points to take a 97-90 advantage with 7:30 left. Cleveland held on for the win from there.
Domantas Sabonis led Indiana with 32 points, 13 rebounds, and seven assists. Washington Jr. added 20 points. Rookie Evan Mobley had 24 points to lead Cleveland. Love finished with 20 points and eight rebounds off the bench.
- Indiana has won five of its last six games against Cleveland.
- Pacers assistant coach Lloyd Pierce was an assistant coach with the Cavaliers from 2007-10.
- Cavs assistant coach Sidney Lowe played his first NBA season for the Pacers during the 1983-84 season. He averaged 4.2 points, 3.4 assists, and 1.2 steals over 78 games.
The Pacers return to Gainbridge Fieldhoouse to host Darius Garland and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday, Feb. 11 at 7:00 PM ET. Find Tickets »
Broadcast Information TV & Radio Listings »
TV: Bally Sports Indiana - Chris Denari (play-by-play), Quinn Buckner (analyst), Jeremiah Johnson (studio host)
Radio: 93.5/107.5 The Fan - Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Pat Boylan (studio host)