The Indiana Pacers return home to play the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday night for the first game at the Fieldhouse since Mar. 25. In that game, the Pacers held on to beat the Atlanta Hawks while playing without George Hill, Lance Stephenson and David West.
A lot has changed since then as the Pacers hit the road for the next four games and returned to Indy with a far healthier roster, a center on a roll and a team looking primed and ready for the playoffs. The one thing they didn't return home with was a loss.
Now the Pacers face a nasty matchup in the Oklahoma City Thunder which will surely test their playoff readiness. The Pacers do get a break with the schedule since they have been at home for three days, while the Thunder were up late last night putting away the San Antonio Spurs.
Yesterday on JMV's show, Frank Vogel went through the challenges OKC presents but then said if he was developing the best possible game plan to play the Thunder that he'd need a player like George Hill to matchup against Russell Westbrook and a player like Paul George to matchup with Kevin Durant. Then he felt he'd need a player like Roy Hibbert to defend the rim. Check, check and check.
Westbrook has been the key to the Thunder beating the Pacers over the past couple of years so keeping him in check is the first key. The Pacers also have to avoid a clunky offensive night, with David West and Roy Hibbert continuing to soften up the middle.
The game will start an hour later than usual tonight thanks to the fine folks at ESPN who originally had this game scheduled for their air but changed for the monster Miami/Charlotte game tonight.
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