INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – After playing a solid three quarters at home against the Los Angeles Clippers before losing on national TV Tuesday night, the Indiana Pacers get a quick chance to rebound tonight on the second night of a back-to-back in Houston against the Rockets.
The 126-115 loss to the Clippers was largely because of the work of star Paul George, the former Pacer. But come Wednesday night, the 25-29 Pacers will not have to deal with anyone of that magnitude when they go up against the Rockets (14-40), a team with the NBA's second-worst record.
Over on the Rockets' side, they have had a wild season that has seen many changing characters. First, they started the season with a public mess of James Harden wanting a trade that played out through the public.
Harden was traded to the Brooklyn Nets in a transaction that eventaully wound up involving the Pacers, who sent disgruntled guard Victor Oladipo to the Rockets and got Caris LeVert from the Nets in return. Oladipo played just 33 games with the the Rockets before being sent to the Miami Heat in a trade deadline deal.
Right now, the Rockets look to five-time All-Star John Wall (20.6 points per game) and 2019 first-round pick Kevin Porter Jr. (15.4 ppg) to carry most of the offensive load.
The Pacers are still dealing with some injuries. Myles Turner (right ankle sprain) remains a question mark for Wednesday's game, Doug McDermott (ankle injury) is day-to-day and T.J. Warren (stress fracture) is out for the remainder of the season.
- Who: Indiana Pacers (25-28) vs. Houstin Rockets (14-40)
- When: 9:00 p.m. ET, Wednesday, April 14.
- Where: Toyota Center, Houston, Texas.
- Line: The Pacers are favored by 4.5 points according to the DraftKings.com website as of 11 a.m.
- Standings: The Pacers are currently the ninth seed in the Eastern Conference. The Rockets are 14th in the Western Conference out of 15 teams.
- Series history: Houston leads the all-time series, 57-39
- Last meeting: Both teams last played in Indiana on Jan 6, 2021, and the Pacers prevailed 114-107. James Harden was still on the Rockets, and Malcolm Brogdon scored a game-high 36 points.
- Projected Rockets starters: John Wall, Kevin Porter Jr., Daniel House, Jae'Sean Tate, Christian Wood.
- Projected Pacers starters: Malcolm Brogdon, Caris LeVert, Edmund Sumner, Justin Holiday, Domantas Sabonis.
- TV: Fox Sports Indiana.
- Announcers: FOX Sports Indiana – Chris Denari (play-by-play), Quinn Buckner (analyst), Jeremiah Johnson (studio host),
- Radio: 93.5/107.5 The Fan - Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Eddie Gill (analyst), Pat Boylan (sideline reporter/host)
Here are three things to watch in tonight's game:
1. Why did Houston just not acquire LeVert?
Caris LeVert is coming off back-to-back games in which he has scored 34 points and 26 points, and the 26-year-old is a rising star in the NBA. The Rockets could have had him in the trade that sent James Harden to the Brooklyn Nets. Instead, they acquired Victor Oladipo through the four-team exchange between the Pacers, Nets, Rockets, and Cavs and Oladipo only spent a few months in Houston.
By trading James Harden, they had all of the leverage and could have got whatever they wanted from the Nets, but their failure to pick up LeVert ended up as a huge blessing for the Pacers.
2.) Pacers need to rebound against bottom feeder
The Rockets are almost the worst team in the NBA right now, and the Pacers need to gather themselves quickly after last night's collapse. As the ninth seed in the Eastern Conference, with teams like Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal's Wizards not far behind, they need to win these kinds of games.
On the season, they are an impressive 7-4 in back-to-backs and are big road favorites. They are expected to win this game and need to take advantage of a Rockets team that's really sputtering.
3.) Will the hot offensive streak continue?
Tuesday night against the Clippers, the Pacers imploded in the fourth quarter scoring only 18 points. Yet, they still mustered together 115 points and, over the previous four games, are averaging nearly 125 points per contest.
Wednesday night will be about the Pacers' defensive performance because the Rockets come in at 25th in the entire NBA in points allowed (114.5), so the offense should continue to roll for Indiana.