Pacers vs Thunder

Oshae Brissett on Earning Contract with Pacers

April 21, 2021 - Oshae Brissett discusses his emotions signing a contract with the Pacers after previously playing on two 10-day contracts for Indiana.

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Oshae Brissett on Earning Contract with Pacers

April 21, 2021 - Oshae Brissett discusses his emotions signing a contract with the Pacers after previously playing on two 10-day contracts for Indiana.
Apr 21, 2021  |  02:22

Game Preview: Pacers vs Thunder

Wednesday, April 21, 2021 at 7:00 PM ET at Bankers Life Fieldhouse

Pacers.com Game Preview presented by DraftKings

Matchup

Indiana (26-31) is looking to snap a three-game losing streak when they face the Oklahoma City Thunder (20-38) for the first time this season on Wednesday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

The injury bug has ravaged the Blue & Gold, starting with T.J. Warren's early season-ending stress fracture in his foot. More recently, all three main big men are dealing with some scuffs. Myles Turner is out indefinitely after an MRI revealed a partial tear of his plantar plate in his right big toe. Domantas Sabonis (sore lower back) did not appear in Monday's 109-94 loss to the San Antonio Spurs, while Goga Bitadze suffered a left ankle sprain in the second half of that game.

Nonetheless, the NBA season stops for no team. If the Pacers want a playoff spot, they will have to utilize the "next-man-up" mentality — something they have wrestled with for most of the season. One likely candidate will be Oshae Brissett, who was a member of the Fort Wayne Mad Ants during the G-League season, and earned his first career start on Monday. He finished with a career-high 13 points. During his second 10-day contract with the Pacers, he has shown the ability to hold his own on the floor.

PLAYOFF PICTURE: Tracking the Latest Standings, Remaining Schedules, and More »

With an average roster age of 23.5, the Oklahoma City Thunder boast the league's youngest roster. On Monday against the Wizards, the starting rotation included just one player with two full years of NBA experience (Kenrich Williams). Inconsistencies and injuries from this unique grueling season have led to their 20-38 record, including their current 11-game losing streak. Yet, they do have some playmakers.

Luguentz Dort, a second-year guard from Arizona State, has shown flashes of greatness. Despite dealing with a sore hip, he has averaged 32.3 points over his last three appearances, including a 42-point outburst against the Utah Jazz on April 13. On April 18, he became the seventh player in Thunder history to score 20 points in a quarter after tallying 21 points on 7-of-7 shooting in the opening frame against the Toronto Raptors. Dort's status is questionable for Wednesday's bout against the Pacers.

With both teams facing the pressures of injuries, Indiana could lean on its healthy veterans to carry the load. Look for Malcolm Brogdon and T.J. McConnell to take advantage of Oklahoma City's inexperienced guards throughout the game.

Projected Starters

Pacers: PG - Malcolm Brogdon, SG - Caris LeVert, SF - Edmond Sumner, PF - Oshae Brissett, C - Goga Bitadze
Thunder: PG - Theo Maledon, SG - Luguentz Dort, SF - Aleksej Pokusevski, PF - Darius Bazley, C - Moses Brown

Injury Report

Pacers: Goga Bitadze - questionable (left ankle sprain), Jeremy Lamb - questionable (sore left knee), Doug McDermott - questionable (left ankle sprain), Domantas Sabonis - out (sore lower back), JaKarr Sampson - out (suspension), Myles Turner - out (partial plantar plate tear, right foot great toe), T.J. Warren - out (left foot stress fracture)

Thunder: Luguentz Dort – questionable (right hip strain), Gabriel Deck – out (not with team), Shai Gilgeous-Alexander – out (right foot plantar fasciitis), Josh Hall – out (bilateral knee soreness), Mike Muscala – out (right ankle sprain), Isaiah Roby – out (right great toe sprain)

Last Meeting

Dec. 4, 2019: The Pacers swept the season series after capturing a 107-100 win against the Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena. It was Indiana's first road win against Oklahoma City since Nov. 20, 2016.

For the second consecutive night, seven Pacers finished in double figures. T.J. Warren scored a game-high 24 points on 9-of-16 shooting. Domantas Sabonis notched a 17-point, 13-rebound double-double, while Doug McDermott added 14 off the bench, including nine in the fourth quarter.

In the first half, the Blue & Gold had some troubles defending the big body of Steven Adams. The veteran center posted 14 points on a perfect 6-of-6 shooting, including a last-minute hook shot that secured a 50-49 halftime advantage for the Thunder.

However, the big man was limited to just six points in the second half, as the defense clamped down and the offense pushed onward. A layup from Justin Holiday with 0.4 seconds left in the third quarter helped win a tight third quarter, 79-78.

The teams remained in a tight battle until crunch time in the fourth. With 2:32 remaining, Myles Turner checked in for Sabonis and nailed a clutch 3-pointer that gave Indiana a 98-96 edge. From there, the Pacers closed out the win using defense and trips to the charity stripe.

Malcolm Brogdon and Warren went a combined 3-of-4 from the line to stretch the slim lead to 101-96. When the Thunder cut it to 103-100 with less than a minute to go, the defense swarmed 3-point threat Danilo Gallinari. He was forced to kick out to the less accurate Terrance Ferguson, who missed the potential game-tying shot. Warren then sealed the deal with free throws on the other end.

Noteworthy

  • Indiana has won three of the last four and five of the past eight regular-season matchups.
  • The Pacers have won two straight and five of the past seven home games against the Thunder.
  • Indiana's widest margin of victory against the Thunder came last season during a 111-85 win on Nov. 12, 2019.

Tickets

A limited number of tickets for all remaining Pacers home games are now on sale. 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 (sideline reporter/host)
Radio: 93.5/107.5 The Fan - Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Pat Boylan (sideline reporter/host)
Please Note: Inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Pacers radio broadcasts can be heard on 1080 AM instead of 1070.





by Brendan Rourke
Pacers.com Contributor

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