Game Preview: Pacers at Suns
Wednesday, January 22, 2020 at 9:00 PM ET at Talking Stick Resort Arena
Indiana (28-16) looks to shake off its sluggish loss to the Utah Jazz and start a new winning streak when they take on the Phoenix Suns (18-25) for the first time this season at Talking Stick Resort Arena. The day of rest in between games will be much appreciated, after playing two tough opponents at high altitudes on back-to-back nights.
Led by their premier scorer, Devin Booker (26.8 points per game on 50.8 percent shooting), the Suns have been playing decent basketball as of late, tallying four wins in their past six contests. Booker's scoring average ranks eighth in the NBA this season. Aiding Booker in the backcourt is eight year NBA veteran Ricky Rubio. Known primarily for his passing abilities, Rubio is ranked second in the league in assists per game (9.4). It's the highest total for any Suns player since Steve Nash averaged 10.7 in 2011-12.
Overall, Phoenix has shown to be excellent in sharing the ball. As the team, the Suns are averaging the second-most assists per game (27.6) — just 0.4 shy of the top-ranked Memphis Grizzlies. This will make it incredibly difficult for Indiana to focus on one scorer. However, the Pacers are no slouches when it comes to dishing out assists either. The Blue & Gold currently rank seventh in the NBA in total assists per game (25.9), and first in assist to turnover ratio (2.00). Fans should expect a passing clinic from these two teams, as they always seem to find the open man.
For Indiana, some eyes will be on the play of T.J. Warren. This will be the first time he squares up against his former team. Despite averaging 18.0 points over 43 games for Phoenix last season, the Suns traded Warren and the No. 32 pick in the 2019 NBA draft to Indiana for cash considerations. Warren could use his underappreciated value as fuel to have a big scoring night against his former team.
Pacers: PG - Malcolm Brogdon, SG - Jeremy Lamb, SF - T.J. Warren, PF - Domantas Sabonis, C - Myles Turner
Suns: PG - Ricky Rubio, SG - Devin Booker, SF - Kelly Oubre Jr., PF - Dario Saric, C - Deandre Ayton
Pacers: Aaron Holiday - questionable (sore right thumb), Victor Oladipo - out (right knee surgery rehab)
Suns: Cameron Johnson - questionable (right quad contusion), Aron Baynes - out (left hip soreness), Frank Kaminsky III - out (right patella stress fracture)
January 15, 2019: Indiana cruised to a wire-to-wire, 131-97 victory over Phoenix at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. After missing the previous four games with a sore right shoulder, Myles Turner returned to the court and posted an 18-point, six rebound performance. Turner went 4-for-4 in the third quarter, which helped the Blue & Gold increase an 11-point halftime lead into a 23-point advantage after three.
When it appeared as if the Suns were going to make a run, veteran guard Darren Collison slammed the door shut, leading a one-man 8-0 run to put Indiana up 77-58 midway through the third quarter. The Suns never made a substantial run for the remainder of the contest.
The Pacers were also aided by the offense of Bojan Bogdanovic and Tyreke Evans, who each tallied a game-high 20 points in the victory. Bogdanovic provided the firepower early, scoring the Blue & Gold's first 10 points of the game.
Though Phoenix struggled shooting all night, current Pacer T.J. Warren ended up leading all Phoenix scorers with 18 points.
- The Pacers have won five straight matchups in the series and have swept the regular season series in each of the past two seasons. The Suns' last win against the Pacers came on Nov. 18, 2016, at Indiana.
- The Suns have not claimed a home victory against the Pacers since Dec. 2, 2014.
- Phoenix head coach Monty Williams was a former honorable mention All-American small forward for Notre Dame basketball, averaging 22.4 points and 8.4 rebounds during his senior season. Despite having a pre-existing heart condition, he was selected by the New York Knicks in the first round (24th overall) of the 1994 NBA Draft.
- Williams' first assistant coaching position was on Pacers head coach Nate McMillan's staff. McMillan added Williams when he became Portland's head coach in 2005.
After a five-game road trip, the Pacers will return home to host the Chicago Bulls at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Wednesday, Jan. 29 at 7:00 PM ET. All-Star guard Victor Oladipo plans to make his season debut that night. Find Tickets »
Broadcast Information TV & Radio Listings »
TV: FOX Sports Indiana - Chris Denari (play-by-play), Quinn Buckner (analyst), Jeremiah Johnson (sideline reporter/host)
Radio: 93.5/107.5 FM/1070 AM The Fan - Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Eddie Gill (analyst), Pat Boylan (studio host)