Last Updated: March 31 at 3:30 PM
The Pacers (32-41) kick off the most important week of their season on Tuesday night in Brooklyn against the Nets (32-40). It will be the first of four straight games for Indiana against teams it is directly competing with for the final two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.
As of Tuesday morning, the Nets are tied with the Celtics for the eighth and final playoff spot, with the Pacers a half-game back. The Hornets are a game back of Indiana, while the Heat are in seventh place, 1.5 games ahead of Boston and Brooklyn. The Pacers visit Brooklyn and Boston on Tuesday and Wednesday before returning home to host Charlotte and Miami on Friday and Sunday.
Tuesday's game is of extra importance because it will determine who owns the head-to-head tiebreaker between Indiana and Brooklyn. The two teams split their first two meetings, with the Pacers winning in Brooklyn on Dec. 27 and the Nets evening the score on March 21 in Indiana.
The Nets have been arguably the hottest team in the East over the last few weeks, winning three straight and seven of their last 10 games. Included in that stretch is a home win over LeBron James and the Cavaliers on Friday. Center Brook Lopez has been especially good, averaging 23.2 points and 8.8 rebounds on just under 60 percent shooting since March 14. Lopez had 26 points in the Nets' win in Indianapolis on March 21.
The Pacers, meanwhile, are hoping to build on an important win on Sunday over the Dallas Mavericks. C.J. Miles led the way in that effort, scoring 28 points on 9-of-12 shooting. Miles has averaged 27 points and made 9-of-14 shots from 3-point range over his last two games.
Shooting guard Rodney Stuckey returned to the lineup on Sunday after missing three straight games with a sore left calf. However, Stuckey injured his right wrist in Sunday's win and did not practice on Monday. Head coach Frank Vogel said they aren't sure of the severity of the injury to the team's sixth man and second-leading scorer, who is listed as questionable for Tuesday's game.
Pacers: PG - George Hill, SG - C.J. Miles, SF - Solomon Hill, PF - David West, C - Roy Hibbert
Nets: PG - Deron Williams, SG - Markel Brown, SF - Joe Johnson, PF - Thaddeus Young, C - Brook Lopez
Pacers: Paul George - out (rehabilitation for broken right leg), Rodney Stuckey - questionable (sore right wrist)
Nets: Sergey Karasev - out (right knee surgery), Mirza Teletovic - out (pulmonary embolus)
You Can Quote Me On That
"Every game matters. It's either we win the game or we go home April 15th (the end of the regular season). That's the urgency we have to play with." -Pacers point guard George Hill
"No one wants to book vacations April 15th. I know I definitely don't. Every since I've been in the league, I've been in the playoffs. I wouldn't know how it feels not be in there." -Hill
"We have to win these games. They're (against) all the teams that are in this East jumble at the bottom, trying to get those last two spots. It's pretty much who wants it more now?" -C.J. Miles
"We've got to guard their spacing better. They're able to spread out with Brook Lopez, (who is) averaging 29 points a game, I think, the last five games. (He) really lit us up, some near the basket but a lot by just being basically a spread five...We've got to do a better job with that." -Head coach Frank Vogel on keys to beating the Nets
March 21, 2015: The Nets blitzed the Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, 123-111. Brooklyn shot an astounding 61.3 percent from the field, the highest field goal percentage the Pacers have allowed in a home game in franchise history.
George Hill led six Pacers players in double figures, finishing with 18 points and nine assists. Solomon Hill and Luis Scola each added 17 points for Indiana.
Nets center Brook Lopez led all scorers with 26 points on 11-of-14 shooting. Bojan Bogdanovic added 21 points off the bench, making all eight of his shots, including three from beyond the 3-point arc. Point guard Deron Williams added 17 points and dished out six assists.
- The Pacers have won three straight games at the Barclays Center and are 3-1 overall in four trips to Brooklyn.
- Indiana leads the all-time NBA series with the Nets, 94-69.
- Pacers guard C.J. Watson needs 10 rebounds to reach 1,000 for his career.
- Nets point guard Deron Williams' next assist will be the 6,000th of his career. He needs four more assists to become the third player ever to record 2,000 assists as a Net, joining Kenny Anderson and Jason Kidd.
Broadcast Information TV & Radio Listings »
TV: FOX Sports Indiana - Chris Denari (play-by-play), Quinn Buckner (analyst), Jeremiah Johnson (sideline reporter/host)
Radio: 107.5/1070 The Fan - Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Pat Boylan (studio host)