All eyes will be on Indiana on Thursday night, as the Pacers host the Philadelphia 76ers for a nationally televised game with major ramifications on the Eastern Conference race.
The Pacers (29-14) opened a five-game homestand on Tuesday by throttling the lowly Phoenix Suns, 131-97. Starting center Myles Turner returned to the lineup after missing four games with a sore right shoulder and was effective, tallying 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting, six rebounds, and two blocks in 28 minutes.
Indiana faces a much stiffer test on Thursday, however, against a Sixers (29-16) team just one game back of the Blue & Gold in the Eastern Conference standings. The Pacers have racked up a 22-3 record against teams currently are .500 or worse, but are just 7-11 on the year against teams that currently own a winning record.
“We’ve proven we can (beat teams like Phoenix) before,” All-Star guard Victor Oladipo said after Tuesday’s win. “The next step is winning against really good teams — the Raptors, Milwaukee, Celtics, Golden State. That’s the next step, beating (those teams) consistently.”
Philadelphia is coming off an impressive performance on Tuesday, when they exploded for 83 first-half points and made 21 3-pointers in a 149-107 thrashing of Minnesota. All-Star center Joel Embiid led the way with 31 points and 13 rebounds and was one of five Sixers players to make at least three triples.
If Philadelphia wins on Thursday, they would catch the Pacers for third place in the East standings (though Indiana would remain ahead in the loss column). In the bigger picture, Thursday’s game could be a determining factor in a potential tiebreaker to determine playoff seeding. The Pacers and Sixers have split two games this season, so whoever wins on Thursday will have the upper hand on the head-to-head tiebreaker with just one game remaining in the season series (March 10 in Philadelphia).
Pacers: PG – Darren Collison, SG – Victor Oladipo, SF – Bojan Bogdanovic, PF – Thaddeus Young, C – Myles Turner
76ers: PG – Ben Simmons, SG – JJ Redick, SF – Jimmy Butler, PF – Wilson Chandler, C – Joel Embiid
76ers: Markelle Fultz – out (thoracic outlet syndrome), Justin Patton – out (right foot surgery), Zhaire Smith – out (Jones fracture, left foot)
December 14, 2018: Thaddeus Young scored a season-high 26 points to go along with 10 rebounds and five assists to help lead the Pacers to a 113-101 victory in Philadelphia.
The Pacers survived a monster performance from Sixers center Joel Embiid, who had 28 points and 14 rebounds at halftime and finished with 40 points and 21 boards. Still, Indiana outscored Philadelphia in the paint, 56-46.
“We were able to get some stops and make Embiid work a little harder, send some help to him, to our bigs down there and just execute in the second half,” Pacers head coach Nate McMillan said after the win.
Bojan Bogdanovic added 18 points for Indiana, Domantas Sabonis had 14 points and 16 rebounds, and Victor Oladipo finished with 14 points and nine assists.
- Indiana had won eight straight home games against the Sixers before Philadelphia’s 100-94 win at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Nov. 7.
- Victor Oladipo needs 24 points on Thursday to reach 7,000 for his career.
- The 76ers signed veteran forward Corey Brewer to a 10-day contract on Tuesday. Brewer is an 11-year NBA veteran and was briefly teammates with Pacers forward Thaddeus Young in Minnesota in 2014.
The Pacers continue their homestand by hosting Jimmy Butler, Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday, Jan. 17 at 7:00 PM ET. Find Tickets »
Broadcast Information TV & Radio Listings »
TV: TNT – Kevin Harlan (play-by-play), Reggie Miller (analyst), Ros Gold-Onwude (sideline reporter)
Radio: 107.5 FM The Fan – Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Slick Leonard (analyst), Pat Boylan (sideline reporter/host)
Please Note: Inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Pacers radio broadcasts can be heard on 1080 AM instead of 1070.