Pacers vs Rockets

Game Preview: Pacers at Rockets

Wednesday, April 14, 2021 at 9:00 PM ET at Toyota Center

Pacers.com Game Preview presented by DraftKings

Matchup

After slipping up in the fourth quarter against the red-hot Los Angeles Clippers, the Pacers look to get back on track when they take on the Houston Rockets inside Toyota Center tonight. Indiana is an even 11-11 this season in back-to-back games, splitting all but two series. They are 7-4 on the second night.

This contest appears to be the perfect setup for the Pacers to rebound. Since Feb. 4, the Rockets have won just three games. During that stretch, Houston posted a franchise-record 20-game losing streak — eight games shy of tying the NBA record set by the "trust the process" Philadelphia 76ers in 2015. Additionally, the Blue & Gold have been one of the best teams on the road all season. Their 16-12 record away from Bankers Life Fieldhouse is second-best in the Eastern Conference.

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However, Indiana should not take this game lightly. While its offense has been superb — leading to four wins out of the past six — the defense has left much to be desired. With Myles Turner sidelined for the past four contests, the Pacers have held just one opponent to fewer than 110 points in regulation. They have given up at least 125 points in consecutive contests. And although it ended in a loss, the Rockets scored 120 points in their most recent game against the Phoenix Suns — a team that ranks in the top five in defensive rating this year.

To pick up the win, the Blue & Gold will have to find ways to slow down the guard-center combination of John Wall and Christian Wood. Indiana knows about Wall, who spotted a team-high 28 points against the squad back on Jan. 6. However, they have not seen Wood yet. The talented young center that did not play in their first meeting is averaging 21.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game this season. He has hit double figures in every game since returning from an injury on March 17, including five consecutive games of recording 18 points or more.

The Pacers might have suffered a blow to their offense after Doug McDermott left Tuesday's game against the Clippers early with a left ankle sprain. The "next man up" mentality could have to be utilized once again as they push for a playoff spot with just 19 regular season games left.

Projected Starters

Pacers: PG - Malcolm Brogdon, SG - Caris LeVert, SF - Edmond Sumner, PF - Justin Holiday, C - Domantas Sabonis
Rockets: PG - John Wall, SG - Kevin Porter Jr., SF - Jae'Sean Tate, PF - Kelly Olynyk, C - Christian Wood

Injury Report

Pacers: Doug McDermott - questionable (left ankle sprain), Myles Turner - questionable (left ankle sprain), T.J. Warren - out (left foot stress fracture)

Rockets: D.J. Augustin - out (left ankle sprain), Sterling Brown - out (sore left knee), Dante Exum - out (right calf strain), Eric Gordon - out (right groin strain), Danuel House Jr. - out (right ankle sprain), David Nwaba - out (right wrist sprain)

Last Meeting

Jan. 6, 2021: The Pacers secured their sixth win of the season after snuffing the Rockets 114-107 inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse. However, it didn't come without a few thrilling moments.

Clinging to a 111-107 lead with 38.2 seconds remaining, Myles Turner swatted away David Nwaba's layup attempt for his eighth block of the night. It was the second time in eight games that the big man had tied his career high. After the Blue & Gold secured the rebound, Malcolm Brogdon iced the game on the other end at the charity stripe. He finished with 35 points — a new career-high at the time.

Three Pacers finished with 20 or more points — Brogdon, Domantas Sabonis (22 points, 12 rebounds), and Justin Holiday (20 points). John Wall finished with a team-high 28 for the Rockets, while Indiana’s defense held James Harden to just 15 on 5-of-14 shooting. The squad held Houston scoreless for the final 2:37 en route to the win.

Indiana fought back from an early 18-8 hole to snag a 35-30 lead after the first quarter. Brogdon had 12 points in the frame, which negated a surprising start from DeMarcus Cousins. The veteran hadn't started a game since 2018 but erupted for seven of the Rockets' first 12 points of the frame. Indiana's bench then carried the load in the second. The secondary squad swelled the lead to 11 before Houston trimmed it to six at halftime.

A hard-fought third ended with the Pacers ahead 90-87. A late 7-0 run from Indiana was answered with an 8-0 Rockets run. But Brogdon ended the third with a layup with 3.1 ticks left to keep the three-point edge. Houston managed to grab small leads in the fourth twice. However, Brogdon's third — and soon fourth — treys of the night pushed the Pacers back in front. Turner shut the door with his block, then Brogdon glued it shut, giving Indiana the win.

Noteworthy

  • Over the past three games against Houston, Indiana is averaging 108.0 points per game on 43.9 percent field goal shooting.
  • The Rockets have won six of the past eight home contests against the Pacers
  • The Pacers trail in the all-time regular-season series, 39-57.

Tickets

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: 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)





by Brendan Rourke
Pacers.com Contributor

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