Opponents: Brooklyn Nets (1-2)
Venue: Barclays Center
Tip-off: 7:30pm ET, 11:30pm GMT
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The Indiana Pacers (0-3) finish their three-game road trip at the Barclays Centre against the free-scoring Brooklyn Nets (1-2) this evening.
Monday’s defeat at the Detroit Pistons (2-2) was a tough one. The team performed much better, particularly in that second half. The team’s chemistry – especially among the starting line-up – is evidently getting stronger, which is promising heading into November. The Brooklyn Nets will be no easy place to go this season, so the Pacers will need to perform like they did in that second half in Michigan if they are to get the win.
Kyrie Irving must be stopped at all costs. Signed in the summer from the Boston Celtics (2-1), Irving has led the charge on the scoring front. He put down 50 points on his debut and averages a league high 37.7 points per game. Alongside the Milwaukee Bucks (2-1), the Nets are averaging a massive 124 points per game. Despite signs of improvement in their last outing, the Indiana defence is still nowhere near a final product. It could be another long night on that front.
However, for all their firepower offensively, the Nets have not backed that up on the defensive end. A 134-133 overtime defeat to the Memphis Grizzlies (1-3) last time out was a bitter pill for them to swallow. Without being able to hold a team under 109 points in any of their previous three games, the opportunities to score high will be there for the Pacers.
Malcolm Brogdon has three double-doubles to his name and is currently the leading assist maker in the league, averaging just over 10 a game. Domontas Sabonis comes in off the back of a 21-point score in Detroit, as he looks to continue averaging over 20 points a game. Both men will need to lead the line offensively again tonight, but this game is there for the taking.
It is the 27th best offence against the 28th best defence in the league at present. If the second unit can finally put up decent numbers off the bench and the team manage to sink more 3 attempts, then there is no reason why Indiana cannot pick their first win of the season tonight.
It will also be imperative that the Pacers play four solid quarters. In their previous three games the Blue & Gold have been let down by one or two poor 12-minute phases which ultimately leave them too much to do. We saw that in the fourth on opening night, second last Saturday and first on Monday. If Irving is on it and this Nets team get away and obtain a 10 or 12-point lead early on, then it could be curtains early doors.
The Pacers may be buoyed by the possible return of Jeremy Lamb, who practised with the team yesterday. Lamb has missed the previous two with a slight hip injury and could come back into the team or make an appearance off the bench should Nate McMillan decide to mix it up a little to try and solve the low scoring issue.