Thanks to developments over the past 24 hours, the Pacers game against the Jazz on Monday night feels like a must-win game for the Blue and Gold.
It isn't, of course, but it suddenly feels that way for a team with aspirations of making the playoffs in the East, which are aspirations the Pacers hold.
Even after losing to the Lakers in spectacular fashion on Sunday, the Pacers remain just two games behind the eighth seed (Miami) in the East, so these aren't desprate times for the Pacers since the margin for error in the East makes the Grand Canyon look like a pedestrian puddle jump.
That said, if the playoffs are on your radar and you lose to the Lakers, then beating the Jazz should be a must. The Pacers beat the Jazz 97-86 in early November to snap a six-game losing streak at the time. Yes, the Pacers are without George Hill and C.J. Watson remains questionable, but the Jazz are missing guard Alec Burks and center Enes Kanter, so there are issues on both sides.
Former Brownsburg/Butler star, Gordon Hayward led the Jazz in the last meeting with 30 points and continues to lead Utah, averaging 19 points per game. Derrick Favors has emerged this season as a strong player at power forward, averaging over 15 points and 8 rebounds per game.
UPDATE: C.J. Watson is available for the Pacers tonight!
|2014-15 NBA Regular Season|
| ||@|| |
|January 5, 2015 - 9:00 p.m. ET|
|EnergySolutions Arena - Salt Lake City, UT|
|TV: Fox Sports Indiana ---- Radio: AM 1070/107.5 FM The Fan|
|Donald Sloan||PG||Trey Burke|
|Rodney Stuckey||SG||Gordon Hayward|
|Solomon Hill||SF||Joe Ingles|
|David West||PF||Derrick Favors|
|Roy Hibbert||C||Rudy Gobert|