In a tale of two halves, the Indiana Pacers came through in the one that counted, overcoming a frustrating first half on both ends of the court to help push them past the Philadelphia 76ers for their sixth straight win. Out of the gate, the Pacers found themselves on the wrong side of a 10-0 start and would be forced to chase those points throughout the first half.
Every time the Pacers managed to cut the lead to a manageable difference, the Sixers would be right there to respond, pushing the lead back to the 10 points the Pacers were originally trying to overcome. Indiana fell behind by as many as 12, but got a huge lift from the second unit, who effectively saved the game from that point, tying the game on a 12-0 run.
Indiana finally broke through in the late stages of the second, taking a 43-42 lead. It would be short lived, however, with Philadelphia responding with 11 straight to push it back to double figures. That would be the difference at the break. The 76ers were carried throughout the half by Joel Embiid, who had 28 points and 14 rebounds, taking full advantage of Indiana’s odd decision to not double team Embiid.
The adjustment did come for the Pacers out of the break, outscoring Philly 14-4 in the first five minutes of the third. Embiid was 0-1 in this stretch with two turnovers as the Pacers were more active against Embiid defensively, taking it to the overwhelmed big man, slicing off the lead.
The Pacers again took the lead, but only briefly. They turned a two point lead into a five point deficit in two minutes, but flipped the game in their favor thanks to eight quick points from Bojan Bogdanovic. Bogdanovic had spent much of the game to that point being frustrated by the lack of whistles and the inability to break free of the defense, but once he finally found some space, he got going in a big way, scoring 11 of his 18 in the third.
Indiana outscored the Sixers 31-18 in the quarter, taking a three point advantage in the fourth. They contended with more Philly responses, a brief tie and multiple one point advantages until the halfway mark of the fourth when Victor Oladipo broke out of his shooting funk with two big jumpers to give Indiana two possession lead, finally.
That would become a three, and then four possession lead fairly quickly as the Pacers outscored Philadelphia 12-3 over the next two and half minutes to push their lead to 10. The lead was cut in half, but Indiana was not deterred, closing strong behind big minutes from Thaddeus Young, who scored four late, forcing Embiid into an out of bounds turnover on a last ditch Philly possession to close out the impressive 113-101 win.
Young continued his stellar play of late with another double double, leading the Pacers in scoring with 26 and pulling in 10 rebounds. Young’s play is often easy to overlook because it’s not a statistical magnet, but it is such a huge part of what the Pacers aim to do through hustle and a great basketball sense. He had six offensive rebounds on the night, leading to seven points. Perhaps most impressive was his 8-9 night from the free throw line.
Young made up 55% of Indiana’s offensive rebounds, the rest coming from Domantas Sabonis, who stepped in in the first half to help keep the Pacers afloat, quickly joining the double double club and finishing with a 14 point, 16 rebound night. In the first half, Embiid outscored the Indiana starters along 28-25, so for the second unit, it was a big saving grace that they could keep the game manageable.
He also took up the job of guarding Simmons in the second half, limiting him to just eight in the second half. Embiid as well had just 12 points after the break, though he finished with an impressive looking 40 and 21 night thanks to the monstrous first half performance. The only other Sixer in double figures was J.J. Redick, who seemed more than capable of shooting Philly back into the lead, scoring 22.
Sabonis did much of that work, but so too did Cory Joseph. Joseph worked out of his own shooting slump with 14 points on 6-9 shooting. He finished with a bench high four assists. Tyreke Evans shot just 2-11 on the night, missing so many shots around the rim, but his ability to get to the line helped him near double figures with nine points. Doug McDermott, unfortunately, shot 0-3 on the night, but did go 2-2 from the line with a rebound and assist.
The starters picked up things in the second half. Young and Bogdanovic stepped up in the second half, but so too did Oladipo, who looked full blown rusty in his second game back from injury. Even with that, he had 10 of his 14 in the second half, scoring six in the latter half of the fourth quarter to help close out the win.
Myles Turner’s double figure streak was snapped due to an eight point night, but he still shot well from three point range, going 2-2 and coming up with a block during Indiana’s run to start the second half. Darren Collison also had eight, but led the way with 10 assists, three straight going to Young late in the second quarter as Indiana was desperately trying to keep pace with Embiid’s march to the free throw line.
A big part of Indiana’s success in closing out the win came from their ability to finally keep the Sixers off the glass in the fourth. Through three quarters, Philadelphia had 15 offensive rebounds, but Indiana was able to limit them to just two in the second half, both coming on one possession. The Pacers meanwhile had six in the quarter, upping their total on the night to 11.
The Pacers were also big in capitalizing off of 76ers miscues, outscoring Philly 33-12 in points off turnovers. Indiana has struggled with ball control in recent games, but had just seven on the night while forcing the Sixers into 16. After being under 40% in the first half, the Indiana offensive came through in the second half, finishing the night at 44.2%, outshooting the Sixers. They also pieced together a solid night from the free throw line, finishing 21-24, led by the aforementioned Young.
The win is Indiana’s sixth straight, their longest since February 2017. It moves them into third place in the East ahead of the Sixers. Philadelphia has become one of the league’s best home teams in the 2018 calendar year, entering tonight’s game at 35-3 in their last 38. Indiana handed them their third loss of the year and fourth in that stretch. The Pacers have handed them two of those losses.
The impressive victories over both Milwaukee and Philadelphia have given the Pacers a tangible marker for their growth across the early portions of this season. This level of progress took longer last season, but it can help them continue to move forward in the East health willing. They’ll return home for a pair starting Sunday, looking to extend their streak to seven against the rival New York Knicks.