Pacers limp home after three consecutive road losses, now face the Clippers
The streaking Clippers are not the best 'welcome home' present for the struggling Pacers.
An extended road trip which started with such promise for the Pacers, ended with a thud after a third consecutive loss ended the roadie in Minnesota.
The Timberwolves, emerging as an elite team in the West this season, handled the short-handed Pacers with relative ease after taking control of the game in the third quarter. The Pacers seemed to run out of gas in Washington the night before, so playing the Timberwolves on fumes without Tyrese Haliburton (knee bruise) was far too tall a task.
Under the best conditions, Minnesota is a brutal matchup for the Pacers with their length and athleticism (feel like I writes this every game). Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards combined for 77 points on 48 shots as Minny rode what was working all night.
The Pacers are back home for a Monday night matchup against the Clippers, yet another team with long, athletic forwards in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Kawhi in particular has been on a heater of late, so the Pacers will have their work cut out for them in this matchup. The Clips are riding a seven-game winning streak since the start of December, with Kawhi averaging over 29 points per game in that stretch, including shooting almost 57% from 3-land on over five 3PA’s per game. Oy!
Should be interesting to see how the Fieldhouse reacts to Paul George making another return. He has been a positive admirer of the Pacers via his podcast and there have been plenty of whispers that he may be a good option to return as the Pacers look to bolster their wing depth (or create some). While PG seems like a perfect fit, the way the Clips have come together after a slow start with James Harden in the mix, I doubt they will be looking to shake things up at this point.
Haliburton remains questionable, which is obviously a major factor for the Pacers. The Pacers have struggled without Andrew Nembhard’s support off the bench at both ends of the floor and with Hali out, TJ McConnell is the last point guard standing. Myles Turner has also shown up on the injury report as questionable with a sore hamstring.
Rookies Jarace Walker and Ben Sheppard have played more minutes of late, but both joined the Mad Ants on Monday for the G-League Showcase down in Orlando. So, both will likely miss the next three games for the Pacers, assuming they play in all of the showcase games for the Pacers. Don’t get me wrong, Walker and Sheppard need the game reps, but I wonder if any of the remaining Mad Ants are thinking, “what part of showcase do you not understand?" The rooks are in the league, while the rest of the roster is trying to make it, which seems to be the idea behind the showcase.
Regardless, if Hali and Turner can’t go, the Pacers will be in live-to-fight-another-day mode.
Where: Gainbridge Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN
When: Monday, Dec. 18, 2023, 7:00 p.m. ET
TV: Bally Sports
Radio: 93.5/107.5 The Fan
Pacers: Tyrese Haliburton, Bruce Brown, Buddy Hield, Obi Toppin, Myles Turner
Clippers: James Harden, Terrence Mann, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Ivica Zubac
Pacers: Tyrese Haliburton (knee bruise) - questionable, Myles Turner (hammy) - questionable, Andrew Nembhard (knee) - out, Jalen Smith (knee/heel) - out
Clippers: Bones Hyland (knee) - questionable, Moussa Diabate (left hip) - out, Mason Plumlee (left knee) - out
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