Pacers vs Timberwolves

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Pacers' Focus is on Staying Together

Dec. 30, 2017 - Pacers head coach Nate McMillan and players Thad Young and Darren Collison discuss the need for the team to stick together through adversity.

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Pacers' Focus is on Staying Together

Dec. 30, 2017 - Pacers head coach Nate McMillan and players Thad Young and Darren Collison discuss the need for the team to stick together through adversity.
Dec 30, 2017  |  01:43

Game Preview: Pacers vs Timberwolves

Sunday, December 31, 2017 at 5:00 PM ET at Bankers Life Fieldhouse
by Wheat Hotchkiss
Pacers.com Writer/Editor
@Wheat_Hotchkiss

Matchup

We'll say goodbye to 2017 on Sunday night, but not before the Pacers (19-17) host one last game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Minnesota Timberwolves (22-14) make their lone visit of the season to Indianapolis on New Year's Eve.

The Pacers have stumbled over the last couple weeks, dropping six of their last nine contests. They've lost all three of their games since Christmas, the last two without the services of leading scorer Victor Oladipo, out with a sore right knee. Oladipo, averaging 24.9 points per game and making a strong case for his first All-Star selection, is doubtful for Sunday's game against Minnesota.

But while Oladipo's absence has had an impact on Indiana's offense, the Pacers have had greater issues over the past several weeks on the defensive end. They've picked up a bad habit of falling into early holes, something that happened again during Friday's loss in Chicago.

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The Bulls scored 37 points in the first quarter and led by as many as 18 points in the first half of a 119-107 win. Chicago killed the Pacers from long distance on Friday, going 18-for-37 from 3-point range and outscoring Indiana by 33 points from beyond the arc.

"We've lost that sense of urgency," Pacers head coach Nate McMillan said after Friday's loss. "We're giving up big quarters. Defensively, teams are really coming out and just jumping on us...right now we're not defending well at all."

The Pacers need to figure things out defensively with the Timberwolves coming to town on Sunday. Minnesota entered Friday fourth in the NBA in offensive rating, averaging 109.9 points per 100 possessions.

The Timberwolves have perhaps two All-Stars in Jimmy Butler (21.2 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 4.8 assists per game) and Karl-Anthony Towns (20.4 points, 11.5 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per contest), as well as third formidable scorer in former top pick Andrew Wiggins, who is averaging 17.7 points per game.

Projected Starters

Pacers: PG - Darren Collison, SG - Lance Stephenson, SF - Bojan Bogdanovic, PF - Thaddeus Young, C - Myles Turner
Timberwolves: PG - Tyus Jones, SG - Jimmy Butler, SF - Andrew Wiggins, PF - Taj Gibson, C - Karl-Anthony Towns

Injury Report

Pacers: Victor Oladipo - doubtful (sore right knee), Glenn Robinson III - out (left ankle surgery rehabilitation), Edmond Sumner - out (left knee surgery rehabilitation)

Bulls: Jeff Teague - out (sprained left knee)

Last Meeting

October 24, 2017: The Pacers put on an offensive clinic in Minnesota, rolling to a 130-107 win over the Timberwolves. Indiana set a franchise record by shooting 66.7 percent from the field in the victory, surpassing the previous mark of .653 set on Jan. 5, 1987 in a win at Dallas.

Victor Oladipo scored a team-high 28 points, Darren Collison tallied a double-double with 15 points and 16 assists, and Cory Joseph knocked down five 3-pointers en route to 21 points off the bench.

"You move the ball as they did tonight (and) guys are going to have wide-open looks," Pacers head coach Nate McMillan said after the record-setting win. "No one was really holding the ball. We (were) getting the ball out to the open guy and then it's like how you practice, catch and shoot.

"We took a lot of open shots tonight."

Karl-Anthony Towns led the Timberwolves with 28 points on 12-of-17 shooting and seven rebounds. Jamal Crawford added 18 points and nine assists off the bench in the loss.

Noteworthy

  • The Pacers are 36-19 all-time against the Timberwolves, including a 21-6 record in games played in Indianapolis.
  • Indiana did not play on New Year's Eve last year, but hosted a game on Dec. 31 in each of the previous four seasons.
  • Pacers center Al Jefferson spent three seasons in Minnesota from 2007-10, while Pacers forward Thaddeus Young played for the T-Wolves during the 2014-15 season. Interestingly, both players were a part of trades involving Timberwolves all-time leading scorer Kevin Garnett. Jefferson was part of the package sent from Boston to Minnesota in exchange for Garnett in 2007, while Young was traded to Brooklyn in the deal that brought Garnett back to Minnesota in 2015.
  • Minnesota guards Aaron Brooks and Jeff Teague both played for the Pacers last season.

Tickets

The Pacers close out 2017 by hosting Jimmy Butler, Karl-Anthony Towns, and the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday, Dec. 31 at 5:00 PM ET. 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: 107.5 FM/AM 1070 The Fan - Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Slick Leonard (analyst), Pat Boylan (sideline reporter/host)
Please Note: Inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Pacers radio broadcasts can be heard on 1080 AM instead of 1070.

Pacers Team Store Game Night Special

Pacers Vintage Collegiate T-Shirt - $14. The Game Night Special can be purchased at the Pacers Team Store on game day. as well as online from 10:00 AM-Midnight. Order Online »

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