Game Preview: Pacers vs Wizards
Saturday, May 8, 2021 at 7:00 PM ET at Bankers Life Fieldhouse
After picking up a crucial win against the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday, Indiana (31-35) is preparing to face off against the Washington Wizards (31-36) for the second time in five days. The two teams are separated by just a half-game in the Eastern Conference standings. Washington sits in the tenth and final playoff play-in spot, three games above the 11th-place Chicago Bulls. If the standings remain the same, the squads will meet again in the newly designed Play-In Tournament.
This matchup gives Indiana a chance at revenge after Washington scored 154 points against Indiana last Monday — a record high for a Pacers opponent in a regulation game. The Blue & Gold are also looking for their first win against the Wizards since Aug. 3, 2020 while playing in the Orlando bubble.
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To do so, it is imperative the Pacers find a way to contain Russell Westbrook. In his last two games against Indiana, the guard has totaled 49 points, 35 rebounds, and 45 assists. His 20-rebound, 20-assist performance against the Pacers last Monday was the third such performance in NBA history. He will be looking for his season-leading 35th triple-double and the NBA-record tying 180th of his career when the two teams meet.
Stopping Westbrook begins with Indiana reinforcing its paint presence. The Blue & Gold surrendered a season-high 96 points in the paint against the Wizards on Monday and another 62 against the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday. They performed slightly better against the Hawks (58 points) and will need to continue that downward trend to remain successful.
On the offensive side, Indiana will be looking for a repeat performance from Caris LeVert. After recording 14 points on 5-for-18 shooting against Sacramento, the guard bounced back with 31 and a season-high 12 assists against the Hawks. He and Domantas Sabonis, who is averaging 26.3 points per game over his last three appearances, will look to carry the offensive load again as Malcolm Brogdon remains questionable with a nagging hamstring injury.
Pacers: PG - Caris LeVert, SG - Aaron Holiday, SF - Doug McDermott, PF - Oshae Brissett, C - Domantas Sabonis
Wizards: PG - Russell Westbrook, SG - Raul Neto, SF - Bradley Beal, PF - Rui Hachimura, C - Alex Len
Pacers: Malcolm Brogdon - questionable (sore right hamstring), Jeremy Lamb - questionable (sore left knee), Edmond Sumner - questionable (bruised left knee), JaKarr Sampson - out (concussion), Myles Turner - out (partial plantar plate tear, right foot great toe), T.J. Warren - out (left foot stress fracture)
Wizards: Deni Avdija – out (right ankle fracture), Thomas Bryant – out (left ACL surgery)
May 3, 2021: Despite racking up 141 points, the Pacers dropped a 154-141 decision to the Wizards behind 96 points in the paint and a monster triple-double from Russell Westbrook.
The Wizards had no problem driving to the rim against Indiana's undersized fill-in bigs. The squad finished 63-of-103 (61.2 percent) from the field. While Bradley Beal (27 points, five rebounds, six assists) and Rui Hachimura (27 points, seven rebounds) topped Washington's scoring column, Westbrook made headlines after finishing with 14 points, a career-high 21 rebounds, and a career-high tying 24 assists. The dynamic guard finished with a +21 rating.
Westbrook's performance overshadowed solid 33 and 32-point nights from Caris LeVert and Domantas Sabonis. In total, eight of nine Pacers finished in double figures as the squad shot 53-of-107 (49.5 percent) from the floor. But the story of the night belonged to Indiana's struggling defense.
The Blue & Gold's defense surrendered a season-high 46 points in the second quarter to take an 82-66 lead into halftime. After the break, the squad gave up another 40 points in the third. They found themselves trailing by 20 heading into the final frame.
Midway through the fourth, Indiana tried a comeback attempt once more. Trailing 136-117, the Pacers managed a 10-4 run, including threes from Sabonis and Aaron Holiday, over a 2:04 span to come within 13 with 5:15 to go. Justin Holiday then had a chance to trim the deficit to 10, but his 3-point attempt flew long. Consecutive buckets from Westbrook and Hachimura then deflated Indiana's sails for good.
- The Wizards are looking to sweep the season series for the first time since the 2006-07 season.
- Domantas Sabonis is averaging 33.5 points over his last two games against Washington.
- Washington has posted two of its three largest scoring totals in the history of the series this season.
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.