Sometimes perceptions can be misleading, but if you believe the schedule-makers haven't done the Sixers any favors this season, you'd be correct.
The Sixers' 22 back-to-backs are tied for the league lead with eight other teams. Of those back-to-backs, 16 of the second games (SEGABABA) are on the road. While most teams accumulate a lot of their SEGABABAs on road trips because it lessens the amount of time they spend away from home, that number still is pretty high. Why is this important? Well, because the Sixers' are flat-out bad on SEGABABAs, sporting a 2-10 record thus far.
This trend makes tonight's game against the defense-first Indiana Pacers a rare occasion. Not only are the Sixers rested and at home, they will be playing a team in Indiana on the third leg of the NBA's only back-to-back-to-back this season.
Remember those? No, the schedule makers didn't have nostalgia for last year's condensed schedule, but maybe Mother Nature did. After a post-Christmas snowstorm, the Pacers' home game against Chicago was rescheduled for Monday. Combine that with their regularly scheduled Tuesday game against Atlanta, and the Sixers have a chance to take advantage of a tired team. In theory, this is the definition a "schedule win."
Unfortunately, the Pacers are also a very good team, a club that sports the league's second ranked defense (Hey, remember what that was like?) and a balanced if underachieving offense. The Pacers aren't perfect by any means, but they're a lot better than the Sixers. That's going to be the case when you have two players the caliber of Paul George and David West, all star shooting guard and 17-Foot Assassin respectively, surrounded by players who fill their roles well.
All that said, there are a couple of factors that heavily tilt the figurative scales in the Sixers' direction. First, Indiana's solid record is heavily bolstered by a blistering 20-3 record at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. It's not as if the Wells Fargo Center is a hostile environment, but it's not Indiana either. They're below .500 away from home.
Second, the Pacer starters all played heavy minutes the last two nights. George has logged a whopping 83 minutes. West was on the floor for 70 of his own. George Hill, (72), Lance Stephenson (64), and Roy Hibbert (60) weren't on the bench a whole lot either. The key to this game for me is simple: Speed Indiana up. They play at one of the league's slowest paces and have played all of their starters heavy minutes. Even if playing fast isn't the Sixers' forte either, tonight is a special case.
Even without Thaddeus Young, Jrue and Turner should try to push the pace. Tip is at 7:00.
Check out Indy Cornrows for the Pacers view.