The Indiana Pacers at 8-4 overall, 4-1 on the road, face off against the Los Angeles Clippers at 9-4 overall, 4-2 at home, in a battle of East vs. West on Sunday night.
The Indiana Pacers enter this matchup on a two-game win streak following their 111-87 win over the Portland Trail Blazers. The Los Angeles Clippers enter on a three-game win streak following their last win over the Sacramento Kings on Friday by a score of 138 to 100. The Pacers are second in the Central Division standings; half a game back from the leading Milwaukee Bucks. The Clippers are second in the Pacific Division standings; one and a half games back from the leading Los Angeles Lakers. This is the first matchup between these two teams this season.
Malcolm Brogdon leads the Indiana Pacers in scoring with 22.8 points per game shooting 46 percent from the field and 88 percent from the free-throw line. Brogdon also leads the team in assists averaging 7.4 per game and is 8th overall in the league. Domantas Sabonis leads the team in rebounds averaging almost 13 per game. Sabonis is tied for 3rd in the league with his rebounding average but is also averaging almost 22 points per game which equates to averaging a double-double. Speaking of double-doubles Sabonis has one in every game so far this season.
The dynamic duo of Paul George and Kawhi Leonard leads the way for the Clippers. George tops the team in points per game averaging 25.3 while shooting around 50 percent from the field and 92 percent from the line. He ranks 10th in the league with this mark. Leonard leads the team in assists averaging 6 per game tied for 18th in the league. He is right behind George in points averaging 25 per game tied for 11th best in the league. One of the additions to the Clippers this season and former teammate of Leonard’s, Serge Ibaka, leads the team with 6 rebounds per game.
Indiana is scoring around 114 points per game as a team shooting 48 percent from the floor and dishing out almost 27 assists per game. These stats land them eight, fifth, and sixth in the league respectively. Both teams rank in the bottom third of the league in rebounding however with the Indiana Pacers only averaging 43 per game. On the other side, their defense has been solid this season only allowing their opponents to score 108 points per game and averaging almost six blocks and 10 steals per game. That lands them sixth, ninth, and third in the league respectively.
Los Angeles has similar stats thus far in the season scoring around 114 points per game, shooting 48 percent, and averaging 25 asissts per game. Eleventh, seventh, and sixteenth are where they fall in the league rankings for these categories. They are slightly lower on the boards averaging only 41 rebounds per game which is the league’s worst average. Defensively they are behind the Pacers allowing opponents to score 110 points per game and only average five blocks and seven steals per game. They rank 12th, 18th, and 18th in the league with these stats.
The Indiana Pacers list Brian Bowen II (groin), Goga Bitadze (right ankle), and Jalen Lecque Jr (ankle) as day-to-day. T.J. Warren (foot) is out indefinitely. Jeremy Lamb (knee) is out for this contest but the team feels he is close to returning to the lineup.
Meanwhile, Caris LeVert is listed as day-to-day as all members of the blockbuster three-team are awaiting physicals to be completed by all parties before anyone can play. There is a hiccup with the trade between the Pacers and the Houston Rockets that was to send Victor Oladipo to Houston in exchange for LeVert and a second-round pick. Since this trade officially came after the trade that sent James Harden to the Brooklyn Nets, LeVert is officially listed on the Rocket’s roster and needs to complete a physical with them before Harden or any other player in that trade can compete. Rumors have it that Oladipo is voicing his concerns about going to Houston and would prefer a trade to Miami.
Despite the star power on the Clippers bench, the Pacers have a legitimate shot to win this game. Defensively they are better and offensively they are shooting similar numbers. The Clippers hold the edge in three-point shooting but the Pacers can dominate the paint. Indiana held the Trail Blazers to 30 percent from distance in their last outing. With Beverly and Williams being out in their last contest, the Clippers were shorthanded and started Reggie Jackson and played reserves Terrance Mann and Luke Kennard for 30 minutes apiece. The Pacer’s bench has proven they can produce and keep the team in games.
However, what the Pacers can’t match in bench production is the play of George and Leonard. They are a force to be reckoned with and without Oladipo and Warren, Indiana is running out of players that can guard both of these stars. Couple that with the post player of Serge Ibaka, Nicolas Batum, and Ivica Zubac off the bench and the Pacers have their work cut out for them stopping the bigs. The first unit of Sabonis and Myles Turner should fare fine, but the second unit could struggle against this size with Bitadze the only other center on the roster listed as out. This leaves Doug McDermott and JaKarr Sampson to matchup up with Los Angeles’ bigs off the bench.
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