The Indiana Pacers and Houston Rockets meet in Texas tonight with both teams seeking to find some footing as the last month of the season ascends. The teams combined have two wins and few teams are struggling on the defensive end more than the Rockets or Pacers, ranked 25th and 27th respectively in defensive efficiency since March 1st per Cleaning the Glass.
Where the duo of lottery-bound squads do differ is on offense; The Pacers are 16th in offensive efficiency in that same time frame while the Rockets are 26th.
Tyrese Haliburton is averaging 16.7 points and 8.7 assists in March, while canning 37.5% of his ~6 threes per game, many of them off the bounce and self-created. Duane Washington Jr. has been a flamethrower of late, averaging 14.1 points in March on 50.7/48.6/91.8 shooting splits. Washington’s been operating more as an off-ball scorer, running off of screens into shots rather than the heavier dose of isolation and ball-screens earlier in the season.
For the Rockets, Jalen Green has found his stride of late after a rollercoaster season. The second overall pick in last year’s draft is 21.2 points and 3.9 assists in March, hitting 39.7% of his threes (6.4 per game). He’ll provide a massive challenge for a faltering defense. His pacing and rhythm in the halfcourt have improved. His pull-up shooting and space creation have benefitted from the game slowing down at the expense of his defender. Green’s explosiveness is near unstoppable in the open court and an empty side pick and roll feels eerily similar!
However, the positives for the Rockets are in their flashes of potential, as the stretches of plus play tend to be few and far between at the moment. Their offense can stagnate, the screening and execution isn’t often in sync; they’re a young team!
No match-up has been an easy one for either team this season, but I’d bank on the Pacers winning this in a high scoring affair due to their track record this season and more stable offense, which is why Draft Kings has the Pacers as 4 point favorites over Houston.
DraftKings Odds: Pacers -4, O/U 243.5 (latest DraftKings odds here)
When: 8:00 PM EST
Where: Toyota Center, Houston, TX
TV: Bally Sports Indiana
Radio: 93.5 FM/107.5 FM
Projected Starting Lineups:
Pacers: Tyrese Haliburton, Buddy Hield, Malcolm Brogdon, Oshae Brissett, Goga Bitadze
Rockets: Kevin Porter Jr, Jalen Green, Garrison Mathews, Jae’Sean Tate, Christian Wood
IND: Goga Bitadze - questionable (sore right foot), Chris Duarte - questionable (sore left toe), Isaiah Jackson - out (concussion), T.J. McConnell - out (right wrist ligament surgery), Ricky Rubio - out (torn left ACL), Myles Turner - out (left foot stress reaction), T.J. Warren – out (left navicular fracture)
HOU: Ja Morant - doubtful (back soreness)Eric Gordon - questionable (right knee tendinitis), Usman Garuba - out (sprained left ankle), John Wall - out
Please leave your thoughts and observations on the game in the comments.
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