The Philadelphia 76ers are on the road this New Year’s Eve for a late afternoon bout against the Indiana Pacers. The Sixers hope to get back in the win column after dropping their last two — a back-to-back against the Orlando Magic and Miami Heat. The Pacers, coincidentally, enter as losers of their last two, a back-to-back that also involved a loss to Miami.
On the year, Indiana sits at 6th in the Eastern Conference standings with a record of 21-12, just a game back of the 5th place Sixers. Indiana has managed to thrive even without All-NBA star Victor Oladipo (who is rehabbing from an injury suffered last January) thanks in large part to the play of Domantas Sabonis and splashy (by Indiana standards) offseason acquistion Malcolm Brogdon. Sabonis has taken a leap on both ends of the floor, playing some of the best defense of his career and averaging career highs in points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, FGA, and minutes. Brogdon, who most probably thought of as a really strong complementary player to Oladipo upon his return to the court, has been called upon to be a primary offensive option for Indiana (30.7% USG per Cleaning The Glass) and has delivered with poise and efficiency.
These two squads have faced off once already this season, a November 30th game in Philadelphia. The Sixers prevailed that night, 119-116. Joel Embiid was the high man with 32 points on 8 of 15 from the floor (and a perfect 15 of 15 from the line) while Ben Simmons dished out 13 dimes. But as the final score indicates, the game was no breeze for the Sixers. Specifically, Malcolm Brogdon and T.J. Warren gave Philly trouble. Brogdon’s 28 points were the fifth most points he’s scored in a game over his four-year career. Warren’s 29 points came on a strong 11/19 shooting performance including a perfect 4/4 from three. The Pacers as a whole shot well in that game, with a team eFG of 62.0%. The Sixers overcame Indiana’s stellar shooting by getting to the line at will, sinking 32 of their 36 free throws.
What made that game a bit more significant than a normal late-Novmeber regular season game was that it was TJ McConnell’s first game in Philadelphia since leaving the Sixers to join the Pacers this past summer. Unfortunately for McConnell, he played a season-low 11 minutes. The good news for McConnell, who reflects on his time in Philly affectionately, is this: Sixers podcast Rights to Ricky Sanchez has organized a contingent of Sixers fans to fly out to Indiana for Tuesday’s game. Don’t be surprised if you hear unusually loud applause for the Sixers for a road game while watching the broadcast.
Who: Philadelphia 76ers vs. Indiana Pacers
When: 3:00 pm ET
Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis IN
Watch: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Listen: 97.5 The Fanatic