After eight days off for the All-Star break, the Pacers (16-19) return to action on Friday night, when they open a three-game road trip in Los Angeles against LeBron James and the Lakers (24-13).
The break came at a welcome time for the Pacers, who were scuffling in the final days while playing a difficult schedule, dropping five of their last six. But the schedule doesn't let up after the break, as Indiana faces another brutal stretch to open the second half. Their road trip pits them against the Lakers, Suns, and Nuggets, three of the top six teams in the West. They return to Indianapolis to host Brooklyn, currently in second place in the East, before hitting the road for three more contests. The first two are against a surging Miami team that swept Indiana out of the playoffs last year and the Pacers close the stretch by facing reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and Milwaukee on the second night of a back-to-back.
It's a formidable test, to be sure, but the Pacers may be getting reinforcements soon. The break hopefully allowed players like Malcolm Brogdon, Jeremy Lamb, and Doug McDermott to rest nagging injuries, but more importantly, Caris LeVert appears close to making his Pacers debut. Indiana acquired the versatile guard from Brooklyn in January in the deal that sent Victor Oladipo to Houston, but LeVert has been sidelined since his initial physical revealed renal cell carcinoma in his left kidney. He quickly had surgery and will require no further treatment, but has had to sit out for several weeks as his body recovers from the operation.
LeVert recently began practicing with the team and the expectation is that he returns sometime early in the second half. Whether that's as soon as Friday night remains to be seen, though we will get more clarity when the team releases its injury report on Thursday afternoon.
The Lakers are a formidable opponent as long as LeBron James is on the floor, but the Pacers may be catching them at an opportune time. All-NBA forward Anthony Davis has not played since Feb. 14 due to a calf strain and Los Angeles also struggled leading into the break, dropping six of its last eight games.
The All-Star break afforded both the Pacers and Lakers a chance to regroup. Friday's game may come down to which team is more refreshed than rusty after the layoff.
Pacers: PG - Malcolm Brogdon, SG - Justin Holiday, SF - Doug McDermott, PF - Domantas Sabonis, C - Myles Turner
>Lakers: PG - Dennis Schröder, SG - Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SF - LeBron James, PF - Markieff Morris, C - Montrezl Harrell
Pacers: Caris LeVert - out (medical condition), T.J. Warren - out (left foot stress fracture)
Lakers: Alex Caruso - probable (neck spasms), Jared Dudley - probable (right knee contusion), LeBron James - probable (sore left ankle), Damian Jones - probable (lower back pain), Kyle Kuzma - probable (right heel contusion), Kostas Antetokounmpo - out (health and safety protocols), Anthony Davis - out (right calf strain), Marc Gasol - out (health and safety protocols)
Aug. 8, 2020: T.J. Warren scored seven straight points in the final 1:25 to lift Indiana to a 116-111 win over the Lakers in the NBA bubble in Orlando. Warren finished with a game-high 39 points, going 15-for-22 from the field and 5-for-8 from 3-point range, one of his many sensational performances over the NBA season restart.
"I know what I can bring to the table on a consistent basis," Warren said after the win. "It's not a surprise to see the success. I know the time and effort I've put in."
Malcolm Brogdon (24 points, five rebounds, and six assists) and Victor Oladipo (22 points, seven boards, and five dimes) also had strong performances as the Pacers swept the season series with the eventual NBA champion Lakers.
LeBron James led the Lakers with 31 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists in the loss. Quinn Cook added 21 off the bench, going 5-for-9 from beyond the arc.
- The Pacers swept the season series with the Lakers last season for the first time since 2015-16.
- Indiana has dropped three straight road games against the Lakers. The Pacers have not beat the Lakers at Staples Center since Nov. 29, 2015.
- The Pacers are 3-4 on the season when playing on the first night of a back-to-back and 2-3 when opening a back-to-back on the road.
A limited number of tickets for all upcoming Pacers home games from March 17 - April 21 are now on sale. Tickets for the final nine regular season home games will go on sale on Monday, April 19. Single Game Tickets » Health & Safety Guidelines »
Broadcast Information TV & Radio Listings »
TV: FOX Sports Indiana/NBA TV - 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)