With Tyrese Haliburton being forthright, open, and honest about how hurt and shocked he was to be traded by the Sacramento Kings, the potential for “you didn’t believe in me” revenge to be served piping hot and (bitter)sweet is a compelling, yet complicated, subplot for a late-March game between two losing teams separated by a half-game in the standings.
On Sunday, following Sacramento’s overtime loss to Phoenix, in which not-so-old friend Domantas Sabonis exited prior to the end of regulation due to a knee injury, the Pacers slipped to sixth in the draft lottery as a reward for winning two-straight games. According to Tankathon, Indiana has a tougher remaining strength of schedule (8th-hardest) than Sacramento (4th-easiest), but Sabonis is expected to miss at least five games with a bruised left knee and De’Aaron Fox has already been sidelined for a pair with hand soreness. Richaun Holmes, meanwhile, who was demoted from starting center when the Kings acquired Sabonis, has been ruled out for the remainder of the season for personal reasons.
Since the trade deadline, neither team has improved on the defensive end, as both are still languishing among the bottom third of the league in defensive rating, allowing over 115 points per 100 possessions over the last 16 games. Indiana, however, has a better chance to make up for what’s lost at that end of the floor from deep — especially if Buddy Hield, who’s missed 32 of his last 42 threes, can breakout of his recent slump against his former team, with Justin Holiday likewise struggling for the opposition (32 percent).
For those reasons, with the Kings entering as losers of six of their last seven games, Draft Kings has the Pacers as strong 6.5-point favorites in what is projected to a be high-scoring game. Like all of the players who are now either injured or in a different jersey, that will be a major contrast to the last game, when the Pacers won on the road despite shooting 24 percent from three, scoring zero fast-break points, and recording 19 turnovers to 13 assists.
DraftKings Odds: Pacers -6.5, 0/U 235 (latest DraftKings odds here)
When: 7:00 PM EST
Where: Gainbridge Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN
TV: Bally Sports Indiana
Radio: 93.5 FM/107.5 FM
Projected Starting Lineups:
Pacers: Tyrese Haliburton, Buddy Hield, Justin Anderson, Oshae Brissett, Goga Bitadze
Kings: Davion Mitchell, Justin Holiday, Harrison Barnes, Trey Lyles, Damian Jones
IND: Chris Duarte - out (sore left toe), Malcolm Brogdon - out (rest), 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)
SAC: Domantas Sabonis - out (bruised left knee), De’Aaron Fox - out (right hand soreness), Richaun Holmes - out (personal reasons), Terence Davis - out (wrist)
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