Preview: 76ers at Pacers
The Indiana Pacers and the Philadelphia 76ers both showed off how good they can be when everything comes together with blowout wins on Tuesday. The two Eastern Conference contenders will see if either can match that effort when the Pacers host the 76ers on Thursday.
Indiana sits in third place in the East, one game ahead of Philadelphia, and earned its ninth win in 11 games by bludgeoning the Phoenix Suns in a 131-97 home victory on Tuesday. “In an 82-game season, you’re probably not going to play perfect at the defensive end,” Pacers point guard Darren Collison told reporters. “We did have our lapses, but we were able to get (going) today, have a good start defensively and make something happen at the offensive end. When we play good defense like that, we pretty much get what we want on offense.” The 76ers were just as impressive while blowing out the Minnesota Timberwolves 141-107 and were quick to credit their defense as well. “I thought we came out with energy,” Philadelphia coach Brett Brown told reporters. “I thought we had a tremendous spirit, I thought we played defense, and we used that base to run.”
TV: 7 p.m. ET, TNT, NBCS Philadelphia
ABOUT THE 76ERS (29-16): Philadelphia shot 59.8 percent from the floor against Minnesota and handed out 40 assists on 55 made field goals. “We used our defense as a launching pad and did some good things there,” Brown told reporters. “But we really shared the ball. It was a perfect (situation) for us to be able to get a little bit more back on track. Some fist-bumps and high-fives, and 40 assists in a big number.” The 76ers also set a franchise record with 21 made 3-pointers as Wilson Chandler (4-of-6), Joel Embiid (4-of-6), Jonah Bolden (4-of-5) and Jimmy Butler (3-of-4) all got hot from beyond the arc.
ABOUT THE PACERS (29-14): Indiana’s defensive effort on Tuesday was led by center Myles Turner, who returned from a four-game absence due to a shoulder injury and delivered 18 points and six rebounds while a pair of blocks pushed his NBA-leading total to 105. “He’s the best shot blocker in the league,” Collison told reporters of Turner. “Consciously, as the opposing guard, you’re always worried about where he’s at on the court. Myles has been there for us all season long.” The Pacers’ seven players in double figures on Tuesday did not include All-Star guard Victor Oladipo, who managed eight points on 2-of-11 shooting.
1. Pacers SG Bojan Bogdanovic is 6-of-10 from 3-point range over the last two games and is shooting 45 percent from beyond the arc on the season.
2. 76ers PG Ben Simmons is averaging 21 points, 14.3 rebounds and 11 assists over the last three games.
3. The road team took the last three in the series, with Philadelphia earning a 100-94 win in its last trip to Indiana on Nov. 7.