PORTLAND, OR -- The Indiana Pacers are coming off of a 103-91 win over the Los Angeles Clippers. The Pacers have been playing high quality basketball as of late. They have won six consecutive games and have gone 12-2 in their past 14 games. Overall the Pacers are 12-5 on the season and are currently the second seed in the Eastern Conference. That happens to be just a half game back from the top seeded Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Portland Trail Blazers started the season well with a 4-2 record, but they have gone just 3-10 since that start. Portland has simply played bad basketball lately. This was expected for the Trail Blazers since their only returning starter from last season is Damian Lillard. Portland is in a rebuilding process, so the Pacers need to make sure not to play down to their competition and just take care of business.
Myles Turner is the only injury to report for the Indiana Pacers and actually for both teams. Turner is still recovering from the surgery that he had to repair the chip fracture in his left thumb.
Pacers projected starting lineup: George Hill, Monta Ellis, Paul George, C.J. Miles, and Ian Mahinmi.
Trail Blazers projected starting lineup: Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum, Al-Farouq Aminu, Noah Vonleh, and Mason Plumlee.
Portland is simply a bad defensive team and they matchup very poorly with the Pacers. The offense starts with Paul George and he has a fantastic matchup regardless of who will be guarding him tonight. Monta Ellis and Rodney Stuckey should have no problems getting their offense going either. However, George Hill may look to play more of an off-ball role tonight to utilize his catch-and-shoot skills since Damian Lillard will be guarding him. He does this with the first unit anyway, but then he can attack as the main offensive player with the second unit. Since the Pacers should have no problems utilizing the individual offensive skills of their play makers, both their play makers and role players should be able to thrive tonight.
As a team, the Pacers should have no problems sailing to any easy win if they just take care of business. Portland struggles to take care of the ball, prevent their opposition from scoring, shooting a high percentage from the field, shooting a high percentage from the free throw line, forcing turnovers, defending perimeter shooting, defending mid-range shooting, defending interior scoring, preventing their opponents from effectively rebounding the ball, moving the basketball for quality shots, and preventing quality ball movement from their opponents.
That sounds like the making of a lottery team because there are simply too many weaknesses to consistently win games. Their only bright spot is their starting backcourt and maybe the potential of their young players, but there aren't many positives outside of that.
Paul George, Ian Mahinmi, Rodney Stuckey, Jordan Hill, and Monta Ellis are coming off of quality offensive performances. C.J. Miles didn't have a bad game, but he didn't shoot the ball that efficiently. George Hill, Chase Budinger, and Lavoy Allen all struggled last game, so look for them to have bounce back performances tonight.
The team is coming off of an impressive defensive performance as well, so the momentum has been rolling for this team lately. Paul George (31), Rodney Stuckey (18), Ian Mahinmi (14), Jordan Hill (13), C.J. Miles (10), and Monta Ellis (10) all scored in double digits last night against the Clippers. It was a quality performance by the Pacers as they held advantages in shooting efficiency from the field, efficiency from the perimeter, efficiency from the free throw line, rebounding, scoring in the paint, fast break scoring, taking care of the basketball, scoring off of turnovers, moving the basketball, and overall defensive effectiveness. These weren't major advantages, but they were enough for the Pacers to get a 12 point victory.
Paul George was the top performer in last night's game. He scored 31 points on 9-of-23 shooting from the field, 5-of-9 shooting from the perimeter, and 8-of-10 shooting from the free throw line. He added 10 rebounds, four assists, three steals, one block, and had no turnovers to lead the Pacers on both sides of the floor. George is now tied with Russell Westbrook for the second most 30+ point games this season with seven. George has scored 30+ points in four consecutive games and in five of his last six games. He has been on a legitimate tear lately with his all-around game lately, so look for that trend to continue against a favorable matchup tonight.
Tonight's game is at 10:00 PM EST on Fox Sports Indiana and NBA League Pass.