Tip-Off: 6 PM CST
Location: Bankers Life Fieldhouse (Indianapolis, IN)
Radio: The Sports Animal
Twitter: Follow @TheThunderGuys for live-tweets during the game
Player to Watch
F Paul George is not the player he used to be in many eyes, but he is having a solid season so far for the Pacers. Indiana has struggled for most of the season hovering right around .500, but they are currently on a 6-game win streak, due heavily to George’s solid play. For the season, he averages 22.6 points per game shooting 45.4% from the field, 38.4% from the three, and 92.4% from the free throw line to go along with 6.1 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 1.7 steals. During the last 6 games, George has elevated his play to average 25.2 points on 47.8% shooting from the floor, as well as 6.3 rebounds and 3.5 assists. George has consistently played slightly above average when at home, so keeping him locked up will be important for the Thunder.
Keys to the Game
- Control Tempo: The Thunder and the Pacers play at a somewhat similar pace of game in terms of number of possessions, but Oklahoma City performs a lot better offensively in transition than Indiana does. The Thunder is currently 3rd in the NBA in fast break points per game with 17.4, while the Pacers are 23rd with 11.1. Defensively, both teams are proficient at stopping their opponents from scoring in transition. Indiana is 3rd allowing only 11.0 fast break points per game, while Oklahoma City is 4th allowing 11.1. In the first game between the two, Indiana outscored Oklahoma City in transition 15-14. The Thunder likes to run as often as possible, so if they can control the tempo of the game and force the Pacers to adjust, it will give Oklahoma City an edge in other areas of the game as well.
- Curb Mistakes: In the first matchup in Oklahoma City, both teams struggled mightily to take care of the ball. The Thunder had 20 turnovers, while the Pacers had 22. Turning the ball over is nothing new for Oklahoma City as the Thunder averages 15.1 mistakes a game (23rd in the NBA), but Indiana is not much better at 14.2 turnovers a game (17th in the NBA). In yesterday’s game, the Thunder started off efficient turning the ball over only two times in the first half, but then they proceeded to give it away 10 times in the second half. Turnovers can be costly in the final outcome of a game, so the Thunder need to make smart passes and take care of the ball consistently to get out of Indy with a win.
- Get Buckets: The Thunder had a ridiculous 16 missed layups in the first half alone yesterday, and if it were not for the defense, they might have lost the game in front of an amped up home crowd. Oklahoma City needs to finish strong at the rim and flourish early in points in the paint, where they rank 2nd in the league with 49.5 interior points per game. The Pacers play solid interior defense giving up only 40.3 points in the paint per game (6th in the NBA), so the Thunder cannot afford to miss easy shots at the basket like they did yesterday.
Article written by Zack Low. Follow @TheThunderGuys on Twitter and Instagram.