76ers-Pacers Preview

The Indiana Pacers are happy to be part of the logjam in the Eastern Conference playoff picture as they look to take advantage of a favorable stretch of opponents.

The Pacers can hand the Philadelphia 76ers a 12th straight road defeat by capturing the season series Sunday evening.

Indiana (24-34) is part of a crowded field of six East clubs battling for the final two playoff spots. The Pacers are one of the hottest teams in that group as winners of seven of nine.

"It's a very odd situation but one that we're happy to still be in the hunt and got a lot of work to do," coach Frank Vogel said.

Four of Indiana's next five games are against opponents with worse records and the club knows it needs to take care of business.

"No disrespect to those teams, but those are definitely matchups we have an advantage going into," forward C.J. Miles told the Pacers' official website. "We've just got to come out with a great intensity and a great focus and be able to play basketball our way."

Indiana has taken two of three from Philadelphia (13-45), including a 106-95 road win in the last meeting Feb. 20. Rodney Stuckey scored a season-high 30 points for the Pacers.

Stuckey is averaging 21.0 points on 54.4 percent shooting in four games since the All-Star break, with Miles averaging 16.0 on 54.5 percent shooting in that span.

The last meeting with Philadelphia marked George Hill's first against the 76ers after he missed the first two meetings due to injury. He was 2 of 8 for seven points.

Hill is slowly gaining in confidence, turning in his first triple-double of his career Friday with 15 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists in a 93-86 home win over a Cleveland team that played without stars LeBron James and Kyrie Irving.

Indiana is 9-3 with Hill as a starter.

"We were close all year, we've been competitive, just needed a little extra boost in a lot of those games, those close games, that we couldn't get over the hump," Vogel said. "He's been the guy of late to get us over that hump with what he brings on both ends of the court, his scoring, his playmaking and then making defensive plays."

Philadelphia seeks its first road win since a 90-88 victory over Brooklyn on Jan. 9. This road slide is two shy of the 76ers' longest from 2013-14.

Rookie Nerlens Noel led a strong defensive effort with 14 points, 13 boards and three blocks as Philadelphia ended a five-game overall losing streak Friday with an 89-81 win over Washington. It was the Sixers' first victory since trading Michael Carter-Williams to Milwaukee on Feb. 19.

''We're a chippy, gritty team that's going to go out there and compete every night,'' said Noel, who had a season-high nine blocks - four against Hibbert - the last time these teams met.

Philadelphia is among the NBA's best in steals per game (9.8) and turnovers forced per contest (17.2). The 76ers are last in turnovers per game (18.6) and points per 100 possessions (92.0).


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