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Pacers host Magic - Two teams headed in same direction on different paths
After four days off at home, the Pacers are finally back in action at the Fieldhouse.
The Pacers welcome the Magic to the Fieldhouse on Sunday evening in what should be a compelling matchup between two young teams trying to make the leap as Eastern Conference playoff contenders.
So far, so good for both teams.
The Paces currently sit in fourth place in the East, percentage points ahead of the Heat and Knicks. The Magic are next in seventh place, just a half game behind the Pacers.
The Magic are lead by a budding superstar in Paolo Banchero, who can take over a game at any time and deliver a Magic W. After a strong showing with Team USA, Banchero is off to a good, though not exceptional start, but still is critical to the Magic’s dynamic front court pairing with Franz Wagner. Both are averaging around 18 points per game.
The Pacers are lead by a budding superstar in Tyrese Haliburton who also showed up nicely with Banchero on Team USA. Hali IS off to an exceptional start, averaging 24.7 points and 12.5 assists per game and is also quite capable of taking over a game to deliver the Pacers a W.
The Magic are younger than the Pacers with the bulk of their playing rotation under 25 years old. Local legend, Gary Harris (HSE) at 29 is the only starter over 24 and he is a spot starter, with Markelle Fultz out. The Magic are also missingWendell Carter Jr., but again have plenty of lenghty depth on the roster.
That length plays a big role in the Magic’s league leading defense. This is where the paths diverge. Yes, Orlando leads the league in defensive efficiency (106.5) while the Pacers are currently 27th in defense (118.5). At the other end of the floor, the Pacers lead the league in offensive efficiency ( 122.0) while the Magic are 25th in offense (108.8).
The Pacers are eight in net rating while the Magic are tenth. Can the Pacers play at their usual pace and lure the Magic into an up and down game, defense be damned?
That’s why they will play the game.
The Pacers will be without Andrew Nembhard on Sunday. The Swiss army knife reserve for the Pacers is dealing with a sore back. T.J. McConnell should easily slide into that backup point guard role. It would be nice if rookie, Ben Sheppard could pick up a few minutes in the rotation, as well.
As mentioned above, the Magic are also short-handed without Fultz and Carter. Former Pacers center, Goga Bitadze has been starting and playing over 20 minutes per game, averaging 7 points and 5.2 rebounds, doing Gogalicious things. Great to see the young big (he is still only 24) take advantage of the opportunity in Orlando.
Where: Gainbridge Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN
When: Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023, 5 p.m. ET
TV: Bally Sports
Radio: 93.5/107.5 The Fan
Pacers: Tyrese Haliburton, Bruce Brown, Bennedict Mathurin, Obi Toppin, Myles Turner
Magic: Anthony Black, Gary Harris, Franz Wagner, Paolo Banchero, Goga Bitadze
Pacers: Andrew Nembhard (lower back) - out
Magic: Jalen Suggs (left knee) – probable, Wendell Carter Jr. (hand fracture) – out, Markelle Fultz (left knee) – out
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