The Indiana Pacers are coming off another tough loss, this time at the hands of the Memphis Grizzlies, 112-103. The Pacers once again give up an explosive fourth quarter to their opponent, squandering 39 points to a typically slow paced Grizzlies offense. Another lackluster performance defensively and still no continuity on the offensive end with key free agent acquisition Monta Ellis, still trying to find his way with his new team.
The Utah Jazz are coming to town after getting their first win on the young season, destroying the Philadephia 76ers 99-71 in Philly. Derrick Favors has been the bright spot for the Jazz so far, putting together a 20-point and 10-rebound performance Friday night against Philadelphia.
Like Paul George, Jazz star Gordon Hayward is off to a slow start so far this season. Hayward scored only 12 points on 3 of 12 shooting in 31 minutes of game action Friday night against the 76ers. Those two going head-to-head Saturday night should make for some exciting game action, as both players are rising stars in the NBA.
The key to Saturday night's matchup will be the defensive ability of the Pacers to put together a total game on that end. Not just one or two quarters, which have been the main cause of defeat in their two prior games. Offensive continuity is a big concern so far as well. But who didn't guess with all the newcomers that this wouldn't happen. New faces plus a new system is usually a good recipe for offensive struggles early on. Fans have still been waiting for the Paul George we've expected to see return after his leg injury. George seems to still be trying to get comfortable on the floor, in what has been his most extensive game action since prior to that horrific night in Las Vegas, NV 14 months ago.
The Pacers will continue to go with the small-ball approach, which could potentially match George against Favors early on in the game Saturday night. Both teams will obviously have advantages on it's respective offensive end. The key will be which team can take advantage of it more often. Look for Paul George to wear down Favors on the defensive end. In doing so, George will only be helping himself on the defensive end where Favors could be less active.
Another big key will be the rebounding on both ends for the Pacers. They were out-rebounded 50-40 by Toronto and 42-38 by Memphis. Obviously having rookie Myles Turner in the rotation gave a boost to the Pacers interior presence on both ends of the floor. It was a big debut for the rookie, as he made spectacular plays on both ends. The rookie center was awarded the backup minutes for the game. With Jordan Hill, another free agent signing off to a poor start, Turner will have a great opportunity to prove himself and possibly be awarded more minutes as the season moves forward.
Projected starters for tomorrow night’s games are as follows: Utah Jazz: PG - Trey Burke, SG - Alec Burks, SF - Gordon Hayward, PF - Derrick Favors, C - Rudy Gobert. Indiana Pacers: PG - George Hill, SG - Monta Ellis, SF- C.J. Miles, PF - Paul George, C - Ian Mahinmi.
The Pacers open as 3.5 point favorites for the contest. Tip time is at 7:00 pm ET as the Pacers look for their first win on the 2015-2016 season.