The Indiana Pacers are looking to sweep the season series for the first time since 2016, while the Los Angeles Lakers are hoping to finally get out of a rough slump.
HOME TEAM: Indiana Pacers (42-27)
The Pacers’ fourth game in the bubble finally saw them come back to earth. They lost to the Phoenix Suns on Friday, 114-99, after opening the restart with three-straight wins.
The team should remain be confident moving forward, though. The momentum from the three previous victories were strong, and we can expect it to be in play tomorrow. They averaged 119.3 points per game on 50.3% shooting in that stretch, while also forcing opponents to commit 17.3 turnovers per contest.
Indy also won the first meeting against the Lakers last December 18th, 105-102. Although All-Star forward Domantas Sabonis (foot) would be sidelined this time around, other Pacers have been playing really well as of late, and it may be enough to fill the void.
TJ Warren only scored 16 points in Friday’s loss, but he’s still red-hot overall as he fired off 53, 34, and 32 points in their first three games. Floor general Malcolm Brogdon, meanwhile, is posting 19.0 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 6.7 assists and only 2.0 turnovers per game on the restart.
ROAD TEAM: Los Angeles Lakers (51-17)
The Lakers are continuing to stumble. They are only 2-3 in the restart, and have now lost in one-sided affairs in back-to-back games. After a 105-86 drubbing from the Oklahoma City Thunder, they got dusted off by the Houston Rockets, 113-97.
All-Star big man Anthony Davis should be looking to have a big game as he has had two-straight duds. He’s only putting up 13 points on 42.1% shooting in that stretch, and has been inexplicably passive, attempting just 19 combined field goals.
The same goes for other the team’s superstar, LeBron James. Despite the all-around quality of his numbers in the bubble (20.3 PPG, 9.7 RPG, 6.0 APG), it seems like he’s slacking and already looking forward to the postseason.
Maybe The King just needs a break? He sat out Thursday’s game due to an apparent groin injury so let’s see if the rest will re-charge his batteries.
If James is still unable to go, Kyle Kuzma will again take his place. The third-year forward is averaging 14.4 points in his last five, and led the Lake Show in scoring against the Rockets – 21 points to go along five boards, three rebounds, two steals, and two blocks.
There’s one key trend that can easily sway any of us: Lakers coach Frank Vogel, who coached the Pacers from 2011 to 2016, is 0-8 against Indy. He went 0-7 during his Orlando Magic tenure, and then added another one after the aforementioned loss last December.
I expect a better showing from LeBron and AD, especially the latter since he was injured in their first meeting with the Pacers, but the Lakers have been all over the place. The Pacers should be able to get this, 108-105.