Opponents: Detroit Pistons (1-2)
Venue: Little Caesars Arena
Tip-off: 7pm ET, 11pm GMT
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Everyone will be expecting a more dogged performance from the Indiana Pacers (0-2) this evening, as they head to Michigan for an early season rematch with the Detroit Pistons (1-2).
The Pistons won the first encounter between the two teams on opening night in Indianapolis, but the Pacers have every intention to repay the favour as they search for their first league win of the campaign.
In order to do so, they will need to tighten up defensively and make sure they are the aggressors early on. Both Domantas Sabonis and Malcolm Brogdon have echoed in the locker room previously that Indiana need to force their way into the game early on and control the tempo.
One man that caused Indiana havoc when the teams last faced off was Andre Drummond. His 32 points and 23 rebounds were instrumental in that Pistons victory, as well as his surprisingly accurate free throw shooting. Derrick Rose and Luke Kennard will also need to be watched much more carefully around the perimeter. It is unlikely they will shoot as freakishly well as they did last week against the Pacers, but if given an easy look or plenty of room to set then they will punish Nate McMillan’s fragmented team.
Victory over the Pacers on opening night remains Detroit’s solo win this season, having dropped their last two games at home. They will be desperate for get a first victory in front of their fans, but the challenge for them is to accomplish that with all-star Blake Griffin.
Jeremy Lamb is ruled out once again, which means Edmond Sumner will continue in his place in the starting lineup. The clash at Little Caesars Arena could offer a lifeline to Aaron Holiday, who wasn’t involved at all in Saturday’s 110-99 defeat to the Cleveland Cavaliers (1-1). He’s got the ability to stamp his mark on a game, as proven last year when he reached double figures in over a dozen matches.
The Indiana bench was blown out the water by their Detroit counterparts last week. They will need to emphatically improve on the measly 16 points they managed to score first time around. It could be last chance saloon for the likes of TJ Leaf if they don’t roll their sleeves up and prove their worth to the cause.
Brogdon was the lone bright spark in Cleveland on Saturday with his 30 points, but he will need to be supported better on both ends of the floor by Sabonis and Myles Turner. The team are near the bottom of the team stats for defence, which is surprising given Turner’s blocking ability.
A win in Detroit will go a long way for the Indiana Pacers. Not only will it level the four-match series between them and the Pistons, or relieve some pressure off of the board, coaches and players’ shoulders. It will more importantly provide some much needed hope for the supporters, who are starting to worry about what this season holds for the Blue and Gold. Confidence is a huge factor in this sport, and the longer a winless run goes on, the worse it plays on the minds and bodies of all involved with the organisation.
That first Victory could be just what this team needs to get the shackles off ahead of a busy week.