The Indiana Pacers’ surge to the top of the Eastern Conference hit a bit of a snag this week with back-to-back losses on the heels of a four-game winning streak. The Pacers will try to rediscover their offense when they hit the road for one game with a visit to the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday.
Indiana nearly overcame a 16-point deficit in the fourth quarter on Friday but ended up with a 104-98 setback against Detroit — the second straight game in which it failed to reach 100 points. “I said after the game, we’ve got to stay confident, stay positive, stay aggressive,” Pacers guard Victor Oladipo told reporters. “Because at the end of the day, we’ve been in that position before. When we’ve won, everybody’s excited, everybody’s happy. Now it didn’t turn out the way we wanted, but we learn from it, we move on, and we get ready for Sunday (in Brooklyn).” The Nets can relate to problems on the offensive end and did not have a starter score in double figures during a 120-87 loss to the Toronto Raptors on Friday. The setback was the second straight for Brooklyn following a stretch of three wins in four games.
TV: 6 p.m. ET, FS Indiana, YES (Brooklyn)
ABOUT THE PACERS (16-13): Oladipo capped the four-game winning streak with a career-high 47 points on 15-of-28 shooting against the Denver Nuggets but went a combined 17-of-48 from the field in the two losses. “Some days I make shots, some days I don’t make shots,” Oladipo told reporters. “Sometimes they trap me and I just make the right play. It is what it is. I’ve just got to find different spots to be effective.” Oladipo is averaging 24.4 points during his breakout campaign and delivered eight rebounds and four assists with only one turnover on Friday to help make up for an 8-of-22 effort from the floor.
ABOUT THE NETS (11-17): While the starters did not reach double figures for Brooklyn on Friday, a pair of new players gave the bench a boost. Nik Stauskas (team-high 22 points, 5-of-7 from 3-point range) and Jahlil Okafor made their debuts after being acquired from the Philadelphia 76ers and combined for 32 points. “They don’t know our system yet,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson told reporters of the duo. “But there definitely were a few bright spots, especially on offense. Stauskas showed some real pop in the pick-and-roll, hit some good shots for us. It’s an expected debut. It’s going to take them time to integrate.”
1. Nets SG Allen Crabbe (knee) sat out Friday and is questionable for Sunday.
2. Pacers C Myles Turner scored 24 points in two of the last three games after going nine straight games without reaching 20
3. Indiana took the last four in the series, including a 140-131 home win in the season opener.
PREDICTION: Pacers 115, Nets 104