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Preview: Warriors return home to face Pacers and PG13

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The Warriors, fresh off road beatings of some of the Eastern elite, face the Pacers back in Oakland. Will we finally get the Curry-PG13 showdown we have been waiting for?

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Matchup
Retro Warriors
Retro Pacers
Golden State Warriors
39-4 (19-0 ROAD)
vs
Indiana Pacers
23-19 (10-13 HOME)
Details
January 22, 2016
Oracle Arena, Oakland, CA
7:30 pm PT
CSN Bay Area | KNBR 680 AM
Blog Buddy: Indy Cornrows
Projected Starters
Stephen Curry G Monta Ellis
Klay Thompson G Paul George
Harrison Barnes F Lavoy Allen
Draymond Green F Glenn Robinson III
Andrew Bogut C Myles Turner
Key Injuries

James Michael McAdoo (Toe) - Questionable

Steve Kerr (Back) - Questionable

George Hill (Personal) - Out

Ian Mahinmi (Ankle) - Questionable

Rodney Stuckey (Foot) - Out


★★★

The Warriors -- come home on the heels of a very successful road trip by any other team standards. Do we consider it a failure because we are the Warriors? Has the bar been set that high? The team tallied its first loss with it's full roster, but then responded with huge wins over Cleveland and Chicago. This game represents the last tune up before the Warriors face off against the Spurs next Monday, followed by a home matchup with Dallas before heading to the East Coast for a swing.

The team looks solid, healthy and in many ways refocused. They have shown more energy, more hustle on the floor, and that killer instinct that seemed to be lacking for a few weeks. They will face a change of pace in the form of the Pacers, who represent the slow methodical Eastern Conference style that has given them a challenge in the past. The game will also feature the return of Monta Ellis to the bay, who always has a place in the hearts of Warriors fans. I look for Golden State to keep up the momentum through the weekend, without taking this game off but rather using it as a warm up for the challenges to come.

The only lingering questions - though not on the injury report, could we see a night off from Draymond Green or Andrew Bogut? Both players came up hobbling against the Bulls in Chicago, and wth a smaller lineup in Indiana, we could possibly see Bogut ride the bench and more minutes for Ezeli and crew at the back up 5.

The Pacers -- come to town facing a recent slump, going 5-5 over their last 10, including losing 4 of their last 6. This could coincide with injuries to key cogs in their system, as George Hill and Rodney Stuckey are on the mend. Can Paul George and Monta Ellis find enough defense to keep up with the Splash Brothers? The Pacers actually feature one of the best defenses in the league, posting the 2nd best defensive rating in the NBA to go with the 8th lowest points allowed (99.5). Though they score a lot of points, they fail in the offensive rating category, ending up in the bottom 3rd. The cause? They seem to be quite inefficient, even thought they shoot 45% as a team from the field. They don't rebound the ball typically well on offense, and they turn the ball over too often. This mainly comes from the fact that they don't have a true point guard (Rodney Stuckey averages 2.5 assists a game).

Their All-Star Paul George carries their roster. He averages over 24 ppg,  but only shoots 41% from the field. He is anchored by the scoring of C.J. Miles (a gunner who never passes and shoots poorly from 3) and Monta Ellis who can still contribute 15 points per game. Frank Vogel does the best with the roster that he has, as per usual. The problem is the Pacers have not produced a solid NBA talent since Paul George came along, and can't seem to lure top-end free agents to the franchise (lost David West and his vet presence in the off-season). They will forever be average - currently slated in as the 5th spot in the East and destined for a 1st Round playoff matchup against a team like Chicago or Atlanta. They can surprise you on any given night, but still have the ability to drop a winnable game. On their current Western swing, they lost a shoot out agains the Nuggets 129-126, and barely beat the Suns 97-94.

Last Time these two faced off -- The Warriors beat the Pacers 131-123. This game was known only for the fact that the Pacers outscored the Warriors 40-20 in the fourth and forced Luke Walton to reinsert his starters for the finish. Klay Thompson hurt himself late in the contest, and Shawn Livingston took the blame, saying he should have never been back in the game. The bright spots? Klay put in 39 before rolling his ankle, Steph put in 29 on relatively poor shooting and the Warriors had 5 players in double figure scoring. Chase Budinger was the Warrior Killer that night back in Indiana, as he feasted on the bench squad with his hustle after Paul George's 33 wasn't keeping pace with the Warriors starters.

Predictions -- Let's face it, the Pacers are not exciting. They want to arm wrestle, and the Warriors will want to kick box. This is a style clash, and in years past the Pacers were able to control the Warriors with big bodies in the middle. However this year, the Pacers are trying things like running Paul George at the 4-spot, with "meh" results. I don't see any way the Pacers keep up, and I don't see the chance that the Pacers will have the same late game push they had last time. Indiana is on the tail end of this three game road trip, and their injuries are piling up.

I picture the Warriors winning this one 115-98, and the starters getting plenty of rest before it's all over.