|2013-2014 NBA Regular Season|
|March 17, 2014|
|Bankers Life Fieldhouse|
|CSN Philly/3M's/Marc Zumoff, Malik Rose, and Molly Sullivan|
|Michael Carter-Williams||PG||George Hill|
|James Anderson||SG||Paul George|
|Hollis Thompson||SF||Lance Stephenson|
|Thaddeus Young||PF||David West|
|Henry Sims||C||Roy Hibbert|
|2013/14 Advanced Stats|
|100.0 (1)||Pace||93.3 (18)|
|98.3 (30)||ORtg||105.1 (21)|
|109.7 (26)||DRtg||98.2 (1)|
Per Bovada, the Sixers are, as the title suggests, 19-point underdogs tonight against the mighty Indiana Pacers. That's an early-season college football line, folks.
It's a fair one, too. Even though the Sixers played Indiana tough the other night in Philadelphia, it seems far-fetched to believe that they can keep tonight's game under a double-digit deficit. If Michael Carter-Williams submits even a half-decent performance, Brett Brown probably has to consider that a win on the whole.
The Pacers have looked like an absolute juggernaut for most of the season, but they've also looked fairly ordinary recently. Owners of the NBA equivalent of Monte Kiffin's Tampa 2 defense — The successful one led by Derrick Brooks, Ronde Barber, and Simeon Rice, not the train wreck recently on display at Jerry World for the whole country to collectively mock — they're still the best team in the league on that end of the floor.
Unfortunately, for a team that has been considered one of the top title contenders since they ran off nine straight wins to start the season, the Pacers have serious scoring trouble. In a conference where a Miami-Indiana conference finals is still assumed (and almost lusted for, as the two teams provided great theater and even better basketball on the same stage last year), I worry about Indiana's 21st-ranked offense. A second round matchup against a stingy defensive team like Chicago would be a war.
Even with their recent struggles, the Pacers still seem like a safe bet to square off against Miami with a finals berth on the line. They found a way to score above their normal level for long stretches of last year's epic series, and they're assuredly going to need to pull the same trick this year. Whether that involves Paul George getting hot from midrange or a newfound teamwide ability to take care of the basketball, something will have to improve. It's hard to win a title with such a bad offense.
As for our old friend The Embattled Evan Turner (that's his name now), he's actually played decent individually for Indiana. Here's the big problem, though: As a team, Indiana stays around the same level offensively when he's in the game but defensively they've been astronomically worse. Like, from the league's best overall defense to the worst. This isn't a surprising development for anyone who has watched Turner closely over the last few years.
Anyway, Turner will get another opportunity to integrate himself into the Pacers' system in a pressure-free environment against his undermanned former running mates. Tip is at 7. Make sure to check out Indy Cornrows for your Pacers fix.